December 9th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed Monday what most of us have suspected for quite some time: “science overwhelmingly shows greenhouse gas concentrations at unprecedented levels due to human activity.”
The report, delivered by EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, proves that greenhouse gases (GHGs) threaten Americans’ health and welfare, and emissions from on-road vehicles contribute to this threat.
Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that:
- Threaten the health of the sick, poor and elderly
- Increase ground-level ozone pollution that’s linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses
- Pose other threats to Americans’ health and welfare
“These long-overdue findings cement 2009’s place in history as the year when the United States government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform,” Jackson says. “Business leaders, security experts, government officials, concerned citizens and the United States Supreme Court have called for enduring, pragmatic solutions to reduce the greenhouse-gas pollution that is causing climate change. This continues our work toward clean-energy reform that will cut GHGs and reduce the dependence on foreign oil that threatens our national security and our economy.”
EPA’s final findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. The findings do not, in and of themselves, impose any emission reduction requirements, but they allow the EPA to finalize the GHG standards proposed earlier this year for new light-duty vehicles, as part of a joint rulemaking with the Department of Transportation.
On-road vehicles contribute more than 23% of total U.S. GHG emissions. EPA’s proposed GHG standards for light-duty vehicles (a subset of on-road vehicles) would reduce GHG emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons and conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of model year 2012–2016 vehicles.
EPA’s endangerment finding covers emissions of six key greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride—that have been the subject of scrutiny and intense analysis for decades by U.S. and international scientists.
Scientific consensus shows that as a result of human activities, GHG concentrations in the atmosphere are at record-high levels, and data show the Earth has been warming over the past 100 years, with the steepest increase in warming in recent decades. The evidence of human-induced climate change goes beyond observed increases in average surface temperatures; it includes melting ice in the Arctic, melting glaciers around the world, increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, acidification of the oceans due to excess carbon dioxide, changing precipitation patterns and changing patterns of ecosystems and wildlife.
Jackson and President Obama have publicly stated that they support a legislative solution to the problem of climate change and Congress’ efforts to pass comprehensive climate legislation. However, climate change is threatening public health and welfare, and it is critical that EPA fulfill its obligation to respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
EPA issued the proposed findings in April and held a 60-day public comment period. The agency received more than 380,000 comments, which were carefully reviewed and considered during the development of its final findings.
Read More:EPA Reaffirms Human Role in Climate Change
October 21st, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) are holding public hearings this week on the country’s first greenhouse gas emissions limits for passenger vehicles.
Hearings began today in Detroit and will continue in New York City on Friday and Los Angeles on Tuesday. You can thank President Obama for pushing this environmental agenda, in concert with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, automakers, the United Auto Workers Union and eco-conscious organizations.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), passenger cars and light trucks emit “nearly 20% of the nation’s greenhouse gases, in the form of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbons. In April, EPA provisionally found that these four contaminants and two other greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.”
The proposed standards would apply to new cars produced from 2012 to 2016. The EDF cites the following benefits:
- Breaking Our Oil Addiction and Strengthening National Security. The vehicles subject to the proposed standards are responsible for about 40% of all U.S. oil consumption. The standards would reduce our oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels, while achieving a 5% annual improvement in fuel efficiency for U.S. passenger cars.
- Reducing Global-Warming Pollution. Vehicles covered by the proposed standards account for 60% of heat-trapping emissions from the transportation sector and about 20% of all U.S. heat-trapping gases. These emissions have increased by more than 1% annually. The proposal would cut carbon dioxide pollution from passenger vehicles approximately 21% by 2030, reducing emissions by 950 million tons.
- Saving Money at the Pump. Families can save more than $3,000 over a vehicle’s lifetime.
Read More:Feds Hold Public Hearings on Auto Emissions Limits
September 30th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Bisphenol A, or BPA, has gained a nasty reputation for running rampant in food packaging, especially plastic bottles. BPA may interfere with hormones.
So now that BPA has been widely vilified in people’s minds, the EPA plans to overhaul the way chemicals are evaluated in the United States.
The EPA proposed sweeping changes to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, referring to it as an “inadequate tool” to help protect the public.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson acknowledges the problem, saying, “Many are turning to the government for assurance that these chemicals have been assessed using the best available science. Current law doesn’t allow us to give those assurances.”
You don’t want to hear that from people who are supposed to protect us from companies trying to sneak hazardous chemicals by us.
EPA officials want to shift the burden to companies, forcing them to prove chemicals, like BPA, are safe, and to urge producers to develop more “green” chemistry.
Biodegrable plastic has already been invented, called “Bioplastic,” made from corn starch, pea starch, and vegetable oil.
Via Food Production Daily.
Image credit: septuagesima
Read More:BPA Part of New U.S. Review of Dangerous Chemicals
January 12th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Last month, a 40-acre pond of coal ash from a local coal plant, containing dangerous heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium, flooded a valley in eastern Tennessee. A retention wall broke.
And now, environmental experts worry drinking water around the area is unsafe. Test samples have revealed higher than acceptable levels of toxins, specifically arsenic.
But here’s the kicker. A new report claims hundreds of coal ash dumps in the United States, which can reach up 1,500 acres in size, lack federal regulation and proper monitoring.
Officials claim this could have prevented the spill in Tennessee.
Some believe the absence of regulation is due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s inaction on the issue, almost doing something in 2000, but buckling after the coal industry complained tighter controls would cost $5 billion a year.
Right now, each state handles the overseeing of coal waste, but environmental experts urge this is not enough. The EPA reported 63 sites in 26 states have water contaminated by coal dumps.
The ecological and health impacts of coal ash toxins are severe. In wildlife, it can cause tadpoles to be born without teeth and fish with spinal deformities and heightens the risk of cancer, birth defects and other health problems in humans.
Via The New York Times.
Read More:U.S. Coal Ash Dumps, Unregulated and Unmonitored
January 5th, 2009 - Leslie Billera
Barack Obama’s pick for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, worked on cleaning up New Jersey, one of the most polluted states in the nation, from Feb ’06 to Dec ’08 as the state’s head of Environmental Protection.
But is she ready to go the distance nationally? The super-smart folks at Grist delve into her record in NJ for a rundown of successes and failures during her tenure.
Nutshell: feedback from those who worked with Jackson at the state level on energy and climate policy are favorable. The people who worked in the trenches of toxic clean-ups on the local level? Not so much…
See both sides here.
Read More:Pros and Cons of Lisa Jackson, New EPA Nominee
June 9th, 2006 - Laura Klein
On June 2, 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council filled a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency to take immediate steps to remove a highly toxic household pesticide, dichlorvos (DDVP) from the market. DDVP a known carcinogen (studies have shown that DDVP causes cancer), is commonly found in pest strips, aerosol sprays and pet collars. Yuck! And we put this stuff on our pets? I don’t!
The NRDC kindly pointed out in the petition that in 1995 the EPA published a preliminary decision to ban all home uses of DDVP. This came on the heels of a deal that the EPA cut with Amvac, the manufacturer of DDVP, which will allow the toxic pesticide to stay on the market. You can find DDVP in products like Amvac Insect Strip, Swat Pest Strip, and Alco No Pest Strip.
The EPA states in the forward of the Office of Pesticide Programs Annual Report for 1995, Publication Number: EPA 730-R-95-002, Date: December 1995:
“EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is making significant progress in carrying out its important responsibilities – - safeguarding public health and the environment from pesticide risks, and ensuring that pesticides are regulated fairly and efficiently.”
The 1995 report states:
“OPP issued a proposal to minimize the cancer and neurological risks of the insecticide dichlorvos (DDVP) in September 1995. Dichlorvos is used to control pests in the home, on livestock and manure, and in warehouses. The Agency is proposing to cancel some uses of dichlorvos, including all residential uses and use on stored food. Additional uses could be cancelled unless certain changes, such as restrictions on reentry into treated areas and prohibition of use except by licensed applicators wearing protective clothing, are incorporated into product labels.”
My question to the EPA: What happened to carrying out “. . . important responsibilities – - – safeguarding public health and the environment from pesticide risks . . . ?” Did we forget that part?
DDVP driven from a WWII nerve agent it is part of a group of pesticides known as organophosphates. This class of pesticides is one of the most dangerous pesticides on the market.
Symptoms of the DDVP poisoning include flu-like symptoms, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and death in big doses. The chemical is banned in Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden.
Aaron Colangelo an NRDC attorney states in a press release, “The agency’s continuing failure to protect public health is unlawful and inexcusable . . . We will pursue a full administrative trial. If EPA denies our petition, we will seek review in federal court.”
To be continued . . .
Read More:Is the EPA Safeguarding Public Health?