Global Warming Causes Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are one of the most painful urological disorders. They’re also one of the most common. One in 10 people will experience the pain of passing a kidney stone at some point in their lives. New research says where you live may put you at higher risk for developing them.
Kidney stones are solid crystals that form from dissolved minerals in urine. Taking in too little fluid or losing too much through dehydration is a common cause, but did you know that where you live may also contribute to kidney stones?
“We are predicting there will be an increase in the prevalence of stone disease with global warming,” stated Margaret Pearle, M.D., a urologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.
A new study from urologists at UT Southwestern shows that global warming is creating a kidney-stone belt. The belt includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee—all places that have seen an increase in temperatures. “We speculate it’s due to fluid losses due to the high temperatures,” Dr. Pearle said.
Researchers predict that by 2050, global warming will cause up to an additional 2 million kidney stone cases. That’s a 30% increase in some areas. Although more fluid intake will help, Dr. Pearle says the main concern is that hospitals need to be prepared.
“We’re looking at a billion dollars of increased need for healthcare resources,” Dr. Pearle said.
Most kidney stones are microscopic and pass without pain. In extreme cases, surgery is needed. The largest kidney stone on record weighed three pounds. That’s the size of the average human brain.
Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance Recognized as “Clean Corporate Citizen”
Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance has earned the distinction of becoming the 156th Clean Corporate Citizen (C3) as part of the voluntary environmental program that recognizes environmental stewardship at Michigan’s facilities. Global Engine becomes one of more than 50 automotive suppliers in Michigan to receive the C3 designation.
Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance manufactures 4-cylinder engines and is a joint venture of Chrysler, LLC, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi and is located in Dundee, MIchigan.
Since 2005, Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance has diligently worked to reduced its per engine production costs through an aggressive pollution prevention program. Over the last year, Global Engine has decreased incinerated waste by 23%, energy use by 8%, and air emissions by 98% from 2006 levels through the near elimination of aerosol can use.
“I congratulate the entire team at Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance for their achievement and dedication to environmental excellence,” said Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven Chester. “The facility’s firm commitment to preventing pollution and protecting our shared environment has earned them this special recognition.”
Bruce Baumbach, Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance’s Plant Manager added, “As an organization it is our goal to promote environmental sustainability in the products we manufacture and the community we live, which is why the Clean Corporate Citizen designation is particularly gratifying. Environmental stewardship at GEMA has been and will continue to be one of the pillars of our success. In the future we will continue to strive to be Clean, Green, and Lean.”
The C3 designation is made to candidates that adopt facility-specific Environmental Management Systems, have active and on-going pollution prevention initiatives at their facility, and have a consistent record of compliance with state and federal environmental requirements. The C3 Program is open to companies regulated under any of Michigan’s environmental statutes, and designations are reviewed and renewed on a regular basis.
Nanoparticles in Cosmetics May have Adverse Environmental Effects
Using aquatic microbes as their “canary-in-a-cage,” scientists from Ohio reported that nanoparticles now being added to cosmetics, sunscreens, and hundreds of other personal care products may be harmful to the environment.
Their report was part of symposia that included almost two dozen papers at the 237th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society where scientists grappled to understand the environmental and human health effects of nanotechnology. Hundreds of products utilizing these microscopic particles—1/5,000th the diameter of a human hair—already are on the market. With many more poised for debut, scientists are seeking to avoid unwanted health and environmental effects in advance.
The study by Cyndee Gruden, Ph.D. and Olga Mileyeva-Biebesheimer focused on nano-titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) particles found in cosmetics, sunscreens, and other personal care products. The particles are added to those products for their highly beneficial effects in blocking ultraviolet light in sunlight. Excess exposure can cause premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.
Gruden, who is with the University of Toledo, explained that the particles are washed down the drain in homes as people bathe and end up in municipal sewage treatment plants. From there, they can enter lakes, rivers, and other water sources where microorganisms serve essential roles in maintaining a healthy environment.
“When they enter a lake, what happens?” Gruden asked. “Would they enter an organism or bind to it? Maybe they kill it — or have nothing to do with it at all. These are important questions for determining the effects that nanoparticles may have on the environment. Right now, we’re not really sure of the answers.”
Gruden studied survival of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria when exposed in laboratory cultures to various amounts of nano-TiO2. She found surprisingly large reductions in survival in samples exposed to small concentrations of the nanoparticles for less than an hour. “How fast the impact was surprised me,” she said. The findings open the door to future research, including studies to determine whether the same effects occur in the natural environment.
Gruden’s method for pinpointing damage from nanoparticles uses fluorescence to identify when the cell membrane in microbes undergo damage. When membranes—a crucial part of the microbe—are damaged, the cells emit a faint red glow. “Methods based upon fluorescence allow us to obtain results faster, maybe with greater sensitivity,” she said, adding that this approach could speed scientific efforts to understand the threshold at which nanoparticles become toxic to microbes.
In a second study on nanotoxicity at the ACS National Meeting, scientists from Utah described development of a new biosensor that flashes like a beacon upon detecting nanoparticles in the environment.
Anne Anderson and colleagues at Utah State University and the University of Utah have inserted genes into a strain of Pseudomonas putida (P. putida)—a beneficial soil microbe—so that it emits light upon contact with nanoparticles of heavy metals. The bacteria glow brightly when it is in its normal healthy state. The glow dims upon exposure to toxic substances.
“The novelty of the biosensor is we’re able to get responses very, very quickly,” she said, “and we can get those answers in the absence of other factors that could bind the challenging compounds.” Anderson noted that traditional approaches in measuring bacterial cell growth may take two days. “At the snap of your finger you can see some of these things take place.”
Anderson’s group discovered that P. putida cannot tolerate silver, copper oxide, and zinc oxide nanoparticles. Toxicity occurred at levels as low as micrograms per liter. That’s equivalent to two or three drops of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Anderson warns it could spell danger for aquatic life. “If you look up the Environmental Protection Agency’s risk level of Copper to fish and other aquatic organisms, you are at that point of toxicity.”
There’s much debate in the science community about nanoparticle toxicity, Anderson said. Some scientists believe that nanoparticles in nature will aggregate together or bind onto silt and/or other organic matter, greatly reducing their toxicity. “We don’t know if that’s true or not,” she said. So other members of this Utah research group currently are investigating that aspect of the issue.
Although the public is ultimately responsible for understanding the risks of consumer products, Gruden said, science plays a large role in highlighting possible hazards. “It is the scientist’s job to perform good research and let the findings speak for themselves,” she said. And so far the promises of nanotechnology need more evaluation. “To date, it’s unclear whether the benefits of nanotech outweigh the risks associated with environmental release and exposure to nanoparticles.”
Insurance Regulators Adopt Climate Change Risk Disclosure
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has adopted a mandatory requirement that insurance companies disclose to regulators the financial risks they face from climate change, as well as actions the companies are taking to respond to those risks.
“Climate change will have huge impacts on the insurance industry and we need better information on how insurers are responding to the challenge,” said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario, who chairs the NAIC Climate Change and Global Warming Task Force. “As regulators, we are concerned about how climate change will impact the financial health of the insurance sector and the availability and affordability of insurance for consumers. This disclosure standard will give regulators the information we need to better understand these risks.”
All insurance companies with annual premiums of $500 million or more will be required to complete an Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey every year, with an initial reporting deadline of May 1, 2010. The surveys must be submitted in the state where the insurance company is domesticated.
The scope of issues covered by the new disclosure requirement is broad, reflecting the many ways in which climate change will impact the insurance industry. In addition to reporting on how they are altering their risk-management and catastrophe-risk modeling in light of the challenges posed by climate change, insurers will also need to report on steps they are taking to engage and educate policymakers and policyholders on the risks of climate change, as well as whether and how they are changing their investment strategies.
Missouri to Host Hazardous Waste Forum
Finding ways to cut costs and save money, particularly during economic downturns, is a constant focus for many Missouri businesses. For businesses that deal with hazardous waste laws and regulations, developing an understanding of these laws and regulations is a good investment that can help save money.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is hosting an upcoming Hazardous Waste Forum to give businesses an opportunity to learn about and comment on hazardous waste laws, regulations, guidance and issues in Missouri. The forum will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 8 at the Department’s Elm Street Conference Center, 1730 East Elm St., Jefferson City.
This forum is designed as a way for the public, industry and organization representatives to communicate with staff from the Department’s Hazardous Waste Program. The forum is free and interested parties are encouraged to attend.
During the forum, the Department will ask for volunteers to serve on a Container Management Workgroup. The workgroup will review current container management regulations and report back to the main forum. Department staff will summarize previous stakeholder comments to change regulations regarding the packaging, marking, and labeling of certain substances while stored at a business.
Other topics include an update of final and proposed department rules and a Health Profile Update. Health profiles identify serious illnesses that may result from environmental contamination. All hazardous waste permitted treatment and operating facilities are required to submit a health profile with their department permit application.
These forums are beneficial for everyone involved. Businesses get the opportunity to learn about hazardous waste rules, regulations, and guidance and to offer their suggestions on regulations that affect them. Department staff get the opportunity to meet with the regulated community and the public and hear feedback from those affected by rules, regulations and guidance. Attendees at past forums have commented that the face-to-face interaction with Department staff was helpful to their business.
While attendance to the forum is open to anyone interested, the Department is extending a special invitation to small businesses owners and representatives. Many of the issues discussed, including container management, directly affect small businesses.
To request more information on the Hazardous Waste Forum or a complete agenda, contact the Department’s Hazardous Waste Program at 573-751-3176 or visit them online.
Limited conference call access is available for the April 8 forum. People requiring special services or accommodations to attend the forum can make arrangements by contacting Cheryl Heet before the meeting at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Hazardous Waste Program, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0176. Heet can also be contacted by telephone at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-7560, or by e-mail at email@example.com. Hearing and speech-impaired individuals may call Heet through Relay Missouri at 800-735-2966.
Tire Pressure Regulation Passed
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted a regulation that will require California’s automotive maintenance industry to check the tire pressure of every vehicle they service.
Effective July 1, 2010, this rule, one of 44 early action measures required by AB 32, will annually:
- Eliminate 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions;
- Reduce the state’s fuel consumption by 75 million gallons; and,
- Extend the average tire’s useful life by 4,700 miles.
“Checking tire pressure is one of the many simple things that we can all do to reduce our impact on the environment,” said ARB board member Barbara Riordan. “While we should do this monthly, this measure makes it convenient and regular.”
The 40,000 service providers subject to the regulation include smog check stations, engine repair facilities, and oil service providers. Those not included are car wash, body and paint, and glass repair businesses.
“Under-inflated tires waste fuel, cause tires to wear out prematurely and increase drivers’ safety risk,” said Dan Zielinski, senior vice president with the Rubber Manufacturers Association, which represents tire manufacturers. “This regulation will help protect California’s environment, help consumers save money in fuel and tire costs, and help Californians optimize vehicle safety.”
The cost of implementing the regulation balanced with the benefits from the measures will save the average Californian 12 dollars per year. About 38% of vehicles on the road in California today have severely under inflated tires, six pounds under manufacturer’s recommendations. As well as seriously reducing the vehicle’s handling capabilities, under inflation can cause irreparable damage, reduce tread life and force the engine to work harder thus increasing the amount of fuel needed.
California is leading the nation in efforts to cut emissions of gases linked to higher temperatures around the globe. The Global Warming Solutions Act or AB 32, signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006, requires the ARB to draft and implement strategies that will reduce the state’s greenhouse gas contributions. Recently, the ARB proposed a Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a regulation curbing greenhouse gas emissions from all of the state’s transportation fuels.
“This regulation is an example of how the drive to meet AB 32 goals will benefit the state,” Riordan continued. “Reducing our environmental footprint will reinvigorate our economy by establishing California as the lead source of technological innovation, diversifying our state’s fuel sources, creating jobs and helping efforts to avert climate change which threatens the state’s ecosystem.”
Climate Change Task Force Releases New Hampshire Climate Action Plan
The Climate Change Policy Task Force released the New Hampshire Climate Action Plan and announced the creation of a public/private partnership that will oversee and guide the Plan’s implementation. The partnership, the New Hampshire Energy and Climate Collaborative, includes representatives from New Hampshire’s businesses, public entities, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions.
The 29-member Climate Change Policy Task Force, created through an Executive Order issued by Governor John Lynch, developed the Climate Action Plan over the course of a year through a public process that involved more than 125 stakeholders and input from over 200 citizens. Members of the Task Force, state officials, stakeholders, and other dignitaries joined Governor Lynch in releasing the Plan, which includes 67 recommended actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing long-term economic benefits to New Hampshire.
The Plan sets a long-term goal of achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by the year 2050.
“Here in New Hampshire, we already recognize that climate change poses serious risks to the health of our citizens, to our quality of life and to our economic future,” Governor Lynch said. “And we are already national leaders in efforts to cut pollution, to build a new energy future and to build a greener economy.
“This report will help us build on the efforts we’ve already made to reduce the pollution that causes global warming and climate change,” said Governor Lynch. “While some of these recommendations need additional analysis and may not be ready to move forward right away, the work of the task force and the information included in this report provides a firm base for further discussion by the public and the legislature on how New Hampshire can combat global climate change.”
New Hampshire is already a national leader in efforts to cut pollution, to build a new energy future and to build a greener economy. Some of the action already taken includes:
- Requiring power plants to reduce the emissions that cause global climate change
- Setting a goal of ensuring that 25% of the state’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2025
- Passing the Renewable Energy Act, creating a Renewable Portfolio Standard, which will increase the use of cleaner energy
- Using the proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reinvest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, which will help to create jobs while protecting the environment
- Issuing an Executive Order directing all state departments to reduce energy use through greater energy efficiency
A key recommendation in the Plan is the creation of the New Hampshire Energy and Climate Collaborative, a partnership of leading private and public institutions from across the state. Members announced include representatives from such organizations as the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, City of Nashua, the Business and Industry Association of NH, and UNH.
The primary purpose of the Collaborative will be to track and facilitate implementation of the Plan’s recommendations, and to report on progress toward achieving the desired goals.
“The recommendations and goals contained within this plan are aggressive, but they are achievable and will result in long-term economic benefits to the citizens of New Hampshire,” said Department of Environmental Services Commissioner and Task Force Chair Tom Burack. “Already, citizens and businesses are moving forward with their own efforts to address climate change and reduce energy use and costs by transforming their homes, businesses, and municipalities and developing in-state renewable energy industries.”
United Taconite Fined More than $100,000 for Air Quality Violations
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has reached an agreement with United Taconite LLC of Eveleth (UTAC) that resolves the company’s alleged past failure to comply with state air quality rules and standards. As a result, the company will pay a $125,000 civil penalty, implement a facility compliance plan, and could spend as much as $642,000 to conduct additional environmentally-beneficial projects.
UTAC mines taconite ore and produces taconite pellets at its Eveleth, Minnesota plant. The pellets are hauled by rail to Duluth for storage, loading, and shipment on the Great Lakes.
While analyzing UTAC’s weekly coal analysis records from 2004 to 2008, MPCA staff discovered the facility’s air emissions had exceeded permit limits for sulfur dioxide on numerous occasions. The company’s permit requires them to sample and analyze the coal/petroleum coke blend that is burned for fuel in the facility’s pellet furnace. Violations also included failure to conduct all required coal/petroleum coke fuel sampling, incorrect sulfur dioxide removal calculations, operational violations for many facility wet scrubbers and particulate filters, and missed monitoring of some emission sources.
In addition to paying the civil penalty and correcting the violations, the company will spend $87,000 to purchase and retire sulfur dioxide allowances under the EPA’s Acid Rain program, permanently preventing emissions of hundreds of tons of sulfur dioxide from other U.S. facilities.
UTAC will also spend at least $180,000 for equipment to control dust on company roads and other particulate emissions. The agreement also requires the company to install continuous emission monitoring systems for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide for the three facility pellet furnace stacks. According to the company, these monitoring systems may cost $375,000.
Minnesota law requires owners and operators of facilities with the potential to release air pollutants to have MPCA permits. They must also carefully monitor and maintain equipment because emissions exceeding state standards can degrade air quality. The MPCA offers outreach and training to help facilities meet their permit requirements. For more information on air quality permits and emission standards, call Bob Beresford, MPCA compliance coordinator, at 218-302-6600 or 1-800-657-3864.
Automation Plating to Pay $100,000 in Civil Penalties for Hazardous Waste Violations
Automation Plating, a California based electroplating company in Tucson, Arizona, has agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty for hazardous waste violations in the latest settlement resulting from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ) “Plating Initiative.” Since 2007, seven Arizona electroplating facilities that were not in compliance with hazardous-waste rules have been brought into voluntary compliance.
“As a result of this initiative to increase oversight of the electroplating industry, most of the facilities inspected by ADEQ improved procedures to ensure that hazardous waste is managed appropriately,” said Patrick Cunningham, ADEQ’s acting director. “The goal of this initiative is to better protect human health and the environment in Arizona.”
ADEQ launched the initiative after plant inspections in 2004 and 2005 showed that many electroplating facilities were not in compliance with the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which regulates hazardous waste.
Most problems with electroplating facilities involve mismanagement of chromium VI, an odorless, tasteless chemical which has been known to cause lung and stomach cancer, asthma and other respiratory ailments, ulcers, anemia, allergic reactions, developmental problems in children, and damage to the male reproductive system.
In 2005, after a worker was trapped and killed in a chemical tank at Automation Plating’s Tucson facility, the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) forwarded the case to ADEQ. During the subsequent inspection and a 2007 inspection conducted by PDEQ at ADEQ’s request, PDEQ found many RCRA violations, including failures to minimize the risk of a hazardous waste release, to prevent leaks from tanks, to respond to a leaking tank, to label containers of hazardous waste, to train employees to manage hazardous waste, to conduct weekly inspections, and to have an emergency plan.
In addition to the civil penalty, Automation Plating has also cleaned up its site and conducted an assessment for ADEQ to confirm that all hazardous waste was cleaned up.
Glenn Supply Company, Inc. Fined for Violating the Clean Water Act
EPA has fined Glenn Supply Company, Inc. of Tulsa, Oklahoma, $32,940 for violating federal Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) regulations outlined under the Clean Water Act. The announcement settles a Clean Water Act violation for a 3,800 gallon oil spill into the North Canadian River and its adjoining shorelines from Glenn Supply Company’s oil production facility in Okfuskee County. A federal inspection of the facility revealed that the company had failed to prepare a SPCC Plan for the facility which contributed to the oil spill.
Union Pacific Railroad Company Fined for Violating the Clean Water Act
EPA has fined Union Pacific Railroad Company of Spring, Texas, $21,000 for violating the federal Clean Water Act. The announcement settles a Clean Water Act violation for a 2,200-gallon oil spill into Cow Bayou, a tributary to Clear Lake, and adjoining shorelines near Webster, Texas. The settlement requires the railroad company to pay the civil fine and certify that all violations have been corrected.
Interstate Container Fitchburg to Pay $19,000 Penalty for Violating Industrial Wastewater Requirements
Interstate Container Fitchburg LLC, which formerly operated a facility in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, has agreed to pay the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a $19,000 penalty for violating industrial wastewater regulations.
The company, which produces printed corrugated cardboard boxes for a variety of end users, failed to operate its wastewater pretreatment system in compliance with state requirements. The violations were found in June 2008 during a routine inspection conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
The company had previously agreed, in a consent order signed with MassDEP in 2004, to properly staff its wastewater pretreatment system with licensed operators. However, the company failed to have a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator on duty between 2004 and 2008, an up-to-date operation and maintenance manual, and a staffing plan for the treatment system.
“Failure to have licensed wastewater treatment plant operators and procedures in place to adequately operate the pretreatment system can lead to untreated wastewaters being discharged to treatment facilities,” said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “The violations identified in this order were the same type of violations as those identified in 2004, so as a result, a high penalty was assessed.”
The company closed down its Fitchburg facility in August 2008, and is now operating in Westminster.
Environmental Source Corp. Assessed $18,137 Penalty for Asbestos Removal Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) assessed an $18,137 penalty on Environmental Source Corporation of Lawrence for violations of state asbestos regulations.
In April 2008, MassDEP personnel responded to a complaint and conducted an inspection of an asbestos siding removal project being conducted by the company at a residence in Westborough. MassDEP inspectors observed numerous violations at the site, and noted numerous pieces of dry, shattered asbestos-containing materials uncontained on the ground at the residence.
MassDEP regulations require that contractors wet and carefully lower asbestos-containing siding to the ground and seal the resulting wet asbestos waste into leak tight containers that have appropriate asbestos warning labels affixed to them. These work critical procedures are designed to prevent exposure of asbestos fibers to workers, abutters, building occupants, and the public.
MassDEP regulations also require advance notification of all asbestos removal work so that field staff can conduct compliance inspections to ensure the work is being properly done.
“Licensed asbestos contractors are fully aware that the prescribed regulatory work procedures are critical to the protection of their workers, public health and the environment,” said Lee Dillard Adams, deputy director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “Failure to strictly adhere to all required work practices inevitably results in significant penalty exposure and escalated cleanup, decontamination, and monitoring costs.”
Under the terms of the negotiated settlement, MassDEP assessed an $18,137 penalty, but suspended $8,637 provided the company does not have repeat violations for one year.
Property owners or contractors with questions about asbestos containing-materials, notification requirements, removal, handling, packaging, storage and disposal procedures, or the asbestos regulations are encouraged to contact the appropriate MassDEP Regional Office for assistance.
Gabriel Performance Products Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
As part of a settlement with Ohio EPA, Gabriel Performance Products, LLC, will purchase more than $2,850 in hazardous materials response equipment for the Ashtabula Township Fire Department. The equipment will be used for response, containment, and decontamination in the event of a hazardous materials release.
The company’s equipment purchase is part of a $14,400 penalty to settle hazardous waste violations at its specialty chemical process development and production facility located at 725 State Road in Ashtabula, Ohio.
During a records review, Ohio EPA discovered Gabriel Performance Products caused five drums of hazardous waste to be transported to a facility not permitted to accept hazardous waste. A subsequent facility inspection found additional violations including failing to: adequately evaluate hazardous wastes and provide proper disposal documentation; properly label containers of used oil, lamps, and batteries; and thoroughly train employees as required by the facility’s hazardous waste permit.
The company addressed the violations and now operates in compliance with Ohio’s hazardous waste laws.
Labor Unions and Environmental Organizations Urge Passage of Climate Change Legislation in 2009
Four labor unions and two environmental organizations announced their support for comprehensive cap-and-trade climate change legislation in 2009. The Blue Green Alliance, which includes the Natural Resources Defense Council, said this legislation is an effective way to rapidly put millions of Americans back to work building a clean energy economy and to reduce global warming emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
“This agreement is one more sign of the growing consensus around the urgency of action on climate change,” said Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Environmentalists and labor groups are working together, standing side-by-side, and presenting a path forward for strong action on global warming that will repower our economy and protect our planet’s future.”
The Blue Green Alliance supports a reduction of U.S. emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, and supports a renewed U.S. effort to forge a global treaty to reduce worldwide emissions by 50% by that same date. To meet these goals, domestic climate change legislation should reduce U.S. emissions significantly below 2005 levels by 2020, with individual partners advocating targets ranging from 14 to 25%.
“We believe that climate change legislation is a critical step to jumpstarting the U.S. economy,” said Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “And we agree that the U.S. must significantly reduce our emissions, something we can accomplish by retaining and creating millions of family-sustaining green jobs in the clean energy economy.”
The labor-environmental partnership also said climate change legislation must address several critical issues. Job loss from international competition can be avoided with allowance allocations to energy-intensive industries and border-adjustment mechanisms. Rising energy costs to low- and moderate-income Americans and adversely-impacted regions can be offset with rebates or tax credits. The Alliance also supports complementary regulation, including standards for renewable energy, energy efficiency resources, and fuel and appliance efficiency.
In addition, climate change legislation should include investments in a wide range of technologies—including carbon capture and sequestration technology—and federal financing for the transition to a clean energy economy.
“Meeting the challenge to tackle climate change will allow us to build a clean energy economy right here in the United States—making the parts for wind and solar power and fuel efficient vehicles are just some examples,” said Jim Clark, President of IUE-CWA, the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers of America. “The economic and climate crises afford us an opportunity to create good, middle-class green jobs.”
“We can choose a new direction for our country—making a clean energy economy the foundation for putting people back to work building America,” said Terence M. O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA). “We have the workers and the skills, and now we need action to build on the green programs of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”
The consensus reached by the Blue Green Alliance partners also said that allowances should be auctioned or used for public purposes and that the legislation should link its solutions to a broad agenda for economic opportunities that engages high-unemployment communities first and funds training and transition needs.
“We have a unique opportunity to be part of the solution and to improve the lives of working people and their families for generations to come,” said Gerry Hudson, International Executive Vice President of SEIU. “It is our duty to ensure that legislation develops a cap-and-trade system that connects environmental justice to economic justice in a way that supports communities across America and creates good, green jobs.”
Finally, BGA partners said that climate change legislation should help to fund a clean energy economic development model for developing and emerging economies and fund adaptation measures that provide solutions to those immediately impacted by global warming both domestically and internationally.
“We share the common goal that climate change legislation is necessary to confront our greatest economic and environmental challenges,” said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “Standing together to advocate legislation that aggressively reduces U.S. emissions while creating good jobs is essential to building a broad consensus in this country around a clean energy economy.”
“The significance of this statement cannot be overstated,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the Blue Green Alliance. “For the first time, a substantial number of unions representing workers across a broad section of the American economy have endorsed the principle that the way out of our current economic turmoil is through major investments in solving global warming. The labor and environmental movements have truly embraced a common vision for the future.”
Firestone Building Products Recognized for Environmental Excellence
Firestone Building Products Company, LLC in Wellford, South Carolina, has been recognized as one of the newest members of the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program (SCEEP), the state Department of Health and Environmental Control announced.
“The facility has shown a commitment to excellence by utilizing its environmental management system to manage programs and foster continual improvement in its environmental performance,” said Bob King, DHEC’s deputy commissioner for Environmental Quality Control. “The company has recycled 124 tons of material since September 2007, which demonstrates leadership commitment toward our goal of improving South Carolina’s environment.”
“That leadership includes several initiatives to reduce the plant’s waste stream,” King said. “The facility installed grinding and pelletizing equipment that contributes to their recycling effort and, to further preserve the environment, the facility installed wire screen baskets in the storm drains to prevent debris or resin pellets from getting into the surrounding wetlands.”
SCEEP is a voluntary initiative designed to recognize and reward South Carolina facilities that have demonstrated environmental performance through pollution prevention, energy and resource conservation, and the use of an environmental management system.
DHEC has supported the program since its creation in 1997 and there are 28 members. For more information, visit the SCEEP webpage or contact Christine Steagall, the SCEEP program coordinator, at 803-896-8986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshop in Pennsylvania to Help Small Businesses Improve Energy Efficiency
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will provide a free half-day workshop in Erie County on Thursday, April 2, to help small- and medium-sized businesses reduce energy costs and increase profits. The workshop will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at Gannon University, Waldron Campus Center, Yehl Ballroom, 124 West 7th St., in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Businesses will learn about energy supply options, illustrate how to identify energy cost-saving opportunities and explain how to develop an energy action plan. In addition, information about financial and technical resources for energy-efficiency upgrades will be available. Particular emphasis will be given to easily implemented, cost-effective changes for small commercial and industrial facilities.
In January, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced the first two funding programs available through the Alternative Energy Investment Fund that will provide $237 million to small businesses and families to conserve electricity and manage higher energy prices. Applications for the Small Business Energy Efficiency Grant Program and Renewable Energy Program are now being accepted and will be highlighted during the workshop.
Registration is free and open to the public. The workshop is sponsored by DEP’s Office of the Small Business Ombudsman in partnership with the Electrotechnology Application Center, the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program, the PAEP Pollution Prevention/Energy Efficiency Roundtable, and the Wilkes University Environmental Engineering/Earth Sciences Department.
Funding for the energy management workshop is provided through a U.S. Department of Energy grant.
DEP’s Office of the Small Business Ombudsman provides assistance to small businesses needing help with environmental issues and helps businesses realize the potential cost savings of pollution prevention and energy conservation strategies.
To register or to find other workshops in Pennsylvania, go to this link. For more information or to request a registration form, call 717-783-8411.
Volvo Penta Marine Products in Lexington Recognized for Environmental Successes
Tennessee Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke participated in an environmental recognition ceremony at the Volvo Penta Marine Products facility in Lexington, Tennessee on Tuesday, March 24. The facility, located at 200 Robert Wallace Drive, was honored for achieving Performer Level status in the Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership (TP3) environmental leadership program.
The Volvo Penta Marine Products plant is the 14th TP3 member to achieve the distinguished level of Performer, joining eight industrial facilities, three schools, and two government agencies. To achieve Performer status, TP3 program participants are required to develop and complete a five-project plan to help prevent pollution of air, land and water, while reducing waste and conserving natural resources. Performers also implement community outreach and mentoring into their programs.
Volvo Penta documented five environmental success stories to achieve Performer status, demonstrating measurable results in pollution prevention. Notable results include lowering hazardous air pollutants by 9.5 tons, a hazardous waste reduction of 10,000 pounds, the prevention of 250 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and the reduction of water usage by nearly a quarter million gallons per year. Additionally, the facility reclaimed more than 660,000 kilograms of material including used oil, wood, cardboard and scrap metal for further use rather than simply discarding in a landfill.
The TP3 is a statewide network of households, schools, government agencies, organizations, businesses, and industries working together to prevent pollution. More information on TP3 or Volvo Penta Marine Products’ pollution prevention projects, is available on the Web.
EPA Helps Put America Back to Work Protecting Human Health and Cleaning Up the Environment
In a move that the Agency says will boost the economy, create new jobs, build the foundation for long-term economic strength, and protect human health and the environment, the EPA has announced a national competition for $156 million in funding to jumpstart clean diesel projects through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). According to EPA, the projects will create jobs and reduce harmful diesel pollution. Nearly $18.5 million of this funding is slated for projects in EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and seven federally recognized Indian Nations. EPA is encouraging organizations and government entities to apply for the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. Applications are due by April 28, 2009.
“This Recovery Act funding for projects to control diesel pollution will go a long way toward creating jobs, while significantly reducing pollution,” said George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator. “This is proof positive that a strong economic and environmental future not only can, but does go hand-in-hand.”
The Recovery Act will enable investments of $30 million in funding for the SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance Program. This funding will support the creation of national, state, or local innovative clean diesel financing programs. Additionally, $20 million has been slated under the Recovery Act for the National Clean Diesel Emerging Technology Program. This funding will support the use, development, and commercialization of emerging technologies that reduce emissions from diesel engines.
The projects may foster a variety of emissions reduction solutions such as add-on emission control retrofit and idle reduction technologies, cleaner fuel use, engine repowering and upgrades, and vehicle or equipment replacement. All projects must provide benefits to air quality in the geographic areas that include New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and tribal lands.
The Recovery Act funding supports ongoing efforts by EPA to support projects that significantly reduce tons of diesel pollution produced, particularly from fleets operating in areas designated by the EPA Administrator as having poor air quality. These efforts reduce pollution from heavy duty diesel vehicles and equipment currently used on or off the road for construction or moving or transporting people and goods. EPA supports a range of diesel reduction projects focused on buses, trucks, ships and locomotives; other projects could target equipment used in applications such as construction, cargo-handling, farming, and mining.
EPA is accepting applications for funding from regional, state, local or tribal agencies or port authorities with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality. Applications will also be accepted from nonprofit organizations or institutions that represent or provide pollution reduction or educational services to people or organizations that own or operate diesel fleets or that have, as their principal purpose, the promotion of transportation or air quality. School districts, municipalities, metropolitan planning organizations, cities and counties are all eligible, provided that they fall within the definition above. ARRA gives precedence to projects that can be started and completed expeditiously.
Diesel engines emit harmful fine particles, nitrogen oxides, greenhouse gases, and toxic air pollutants. These emissions contribute to unhealthy levels of air pollution, particularly in the Northeast, where millions of residents are affected. Fine particles can lodge deep into the lungs, can trigger asthma attacks and, over time, cause permanent damage to the lungs. Nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog, the choking brown haze that settles over many areas on the hottest summer days.
President Obama has directed that the Recovery Act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability. To that end, the American people can see how every dollar is being invested at http://www.recovery.gov.
Interested applicants, who have additional questions about the regional competition, may contact EPA’s Matt Laurita, 212-637-3895, email@example.com . Applicants may submit written questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or attend an information call-in session, listed at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/eparecovery/prognational.htm#rfa.
State Estimates Delay in Fighting Climate Change Could Cost Billions
The 16 members of the California Climate Action Team (CAT), established by Executive Order S-3-05, will hold a meeting to preview an upcoming report on the environmental and economic impacts from the effects of climate change in California.
The “Climate Action Team Biennial Report,” set to be released later this month for public comment, will synthesize 40 research papers focused solely on California impacts, as well as discuss future research coordination and adaptation strategies to address the effects of climate change.
Similar to an earlier report published in April 2006, the Report will update climate science studies with available new research. In addition, the Report will summarize new research on the economic impacts of climate change to California which is estimated to be in the billions of dollars if no mitigation or adaptation actions are taken. These important technical studies help guide the CAT in the development of policies that help reduce pollution and adapt to our changing climate to ensure that decisions are based on sound science.
The 40 papers analyze such research areas as the impacts of sea level rise, higher temperatures, increased wildfires, decreased water supplies, increased energy demand, among others, on the state’s environment, industries and economic prosperity. PowerPoint presentations from the meeting, which include preview highlights of the full draft Report, may be viewed here.
The majority of the funding for the scientific papers came from the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER). PIER supports energy research and development that helps improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, affordable and reliable energy services and products to the marketplace.
The papers were written by teams of world-class scientists from various disciplines based at prominent California universities and research institutions. Papers are peer reviewed by technical experts in private, public and governmental entities. When released, the papers will be posted here.
The CAT plays an essential role in the state’s efforts to combat climate change. The CAT supports the implementation of the Scoping Plan—the state’s roadmap to reach the greenhouse gas reduction goals required in the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or AB 32. This Plan calls for ambitious but achievable greenhouse gas emission reductions and moves our state toward a clean energy future. The CAT also plays a key role in implementing Executive Order S-13-08 which calls for development of a state climate adaptation strategy by June 2009.
The CAT is made up of representatives from 16 state agencies, boards, and departments including: Business, Transportation & Housing Agency; California Environmental Protection Agency; California Public Utilities Commission; Department of Food and Agriculture; Health and Human Services Agency; Natural Resources Agency; State and Consumer Services Agency—Department of General Services; Air Resources Board; California Energy Commission; Department of Conservation; Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; Department of Transportation; Department of Water Resources; Integrated Waste Management Board; and State Water Resources Control Board.
EPA Endangerment Finding Will End ‘Era of Denial’
Media reports indicate that the EPA sent a proposal to the White House on Friday, March 27, determining that global warming is, in fact, a danger to public health and welfare, as part of a long-awaited response to the landmark 2007 global warming Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v EPA, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs key global warming panels in the House, praised the move by the Obama administration, after years of avoidance by the previous administration.
“This finding will officially end the era of denial on global warming,” said Representative Markey. “Instead of allowing political interference in scientific and legal decisions, as was the case in the previous administration, the Obama administration is letting the sun shine in on the dangerous realities of global warming.”
An investigative report issued in the Summer of 2008 by Chairman Markey and his Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming found that members of government at the highest levels, including the office of President George W. Bush’s Chief of Staff and numerous heads of Cabinet departments, had decided to use the Clean Air Act to regulate global warming emissions not only from vehicles, but also from power plants, refineries, and other so-called stationary sources—but reversed their decision in the face of strong opposition from ExxonMobil and others within the oil industry, as well as from at least one senior adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Chairman Markey and Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) of the Energy and Commerce Committee are currently drafting climate and energy legislation to control the emissions that cause global warming. An endangerment finding would send a strong signal to companies and industries that pump heat-trapping pollution into the atmosphere that they will, one way or another, have to curb such emissions—thereby enhancing prospects for enactment of a federal cap on global warming emissions.
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Trivia Question of the Week
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, if you turn off your computer every night, you can save how much money per year?