Tag Archives: EPA

Bees are your Buddies

Do you like to eat fruit? Bees are YOUR best friends. Parents – please teach your kids to respect Bees! Each year I read to Kindergartners – and each time I read books about BEES the kids say ” I hate Bees”. It stuns me and it starts at home. Teach your kids that insects, bees, butterflies provide honey, pollination and ultimately food for us. We LOVE BEES!!!

Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in our food production system by enabling the production of many of the nuts, fruits and vegetables in our diets. In total, pollinators make possible an astounding 35% of global food production and contribute more than $24 billion annually to the U.S. economy.But the number of managed honeybee colonies in the United States has declined from 6 million in the 1940s to just 2.5 million today – jeopardizing our food supply and domestic agriculture industry.3

FLASHBACK from 2014 – That’s why President Obama tasked the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency with co-chairing the Pollinator Health Task Force and leading the federal response to the devastating decline in populations of bees and other vital pollinators.

So far, both the USDA and EPA have displayed a disturbing lack of urgency when it comes to saving bees from deadly pesticides. In fact, the EPA’s current plan is to continue studying neonicotinoid pesticides until 2018 before it takes action to save our pollinators.

It’s 2018 and the story continues.Each person can CHOOSE to not use pesticides, like Round-up, and make their garden inviting to bees. We can make the difference. Round-up is still sold at COSTCO in gigantic containers… right next to the NATIVE BEE HOMES….. Let’s get smart. Don’t buy that toxic junk.  Besides- dandelions are great food for bees, their flowers bloom early and give the bees food when it is winter.   –The editor

 

POWER PLANT POLLUTION

NEW REPORT: EPA MUST PROTECT DRINKING WATER AND DOWNSTREAM COMMUNITIES FROM POWER PLANT POLLUTION

Health benefits of a strong rule worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year

Washington, D.C. – Power plants discharge more than 5.5 billion pounds of pollutants into U.S. waterways every year, contributing to the contamination of more than 23,000 miles of rivers and 185 water bodies whose fish are too toxic to eat.

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weighs the nation’s first limits on toxic water pollution from power plants — due in September — a new report details the damage caused by the wastewater and the need for strong regulations to protect public health.

The report, “Selling Our Health Down the River,” presents evidence that EPA has been under-estimating the public health benefits of controlling metals including arsenic and hexavalent chromium (which can increase the risk of cancer), as well as lead and mercury (which can cause brain damage) released by power plants into rivers, streams, and lakes.

While EPA has estimated that controlling these pollutants would provide $14 million to $20 million worth of health benefits per year, a more accurate assessment would likely far exceed $300 million annually, according to the report, which was written by Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, Earthjustice and Clean Water Action.

“EPA has a historic opportunity to update Clean Water Act protections and to make sure our nation’s drinking water systems and their consumers aren’t bearing the burden and footing the bill to clean up coal plant water pollution,” said Clean Water Action Water Programs Director Jennifer Peters. “EPA must put the prevention of contamination and public health protection  before the interests of an industry that has had a free pass to poison our nation’s waters for decades.”

The current wastewater pollution guidelines for power plants have not been updated since 1982 and do not restrict discharges of heavy metals, despite the fact that the electric power industry is responsible for the majority of toxic water pollution from industrial sources.

“For more than 30 years, power plants have dumped toxic chemicals into our waters, even though there are laws on the books that require the industry to clean up its act,” said Thom Cmar, Earthjustice’s lead attorney on this issue.  “This report shows the EPA the enormous benefits of finally righting this wrong, and why cleaning-up the nation’s biggest water polluters is a no-brainer.”

The proposed rule, formally the Effluent Limitations Guidelines for the Steam Electric industry, or “ELG,” contains a menu of options that the agency is considering.  The authors of the report urge the EPA to choose the strongest possible protections against water toxics from power plants, which are outlined in the agency’s proposal as options 4 and 5. Both would eliminate almost all heavy metal water pollution from the industry.

“Strong clean water laws are about a child’s right to grow up healthy and holding polluters accountable for decades of toxic dumping,” said Casey Roberts, an author of the report and staff attorney at the Sierra Club. “As things stand today, thousands of lives are unnecessarily put at risk due to outdated policies and irresponsible polluters. In September, EPA has a chance to change that for the better.”

“Coal-burning power plants are pouring poisonous heavy metals into our waterways. These toxic substances – like mercury, lead and arsenic – are putting at risk the health of our children and the developing brains of our babies”, said Barbara Gottlieb, Director of Environment and Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We need robust, effective protection from the EPA to get this dangerous pollution under control.”

The benefits to public health, downstream communities, and the economy justify the largest possible reduction of toxic discharges.  Unfortunately EPA’s analysis only estimated the economic value of three specific human health benefits.  EPA disregarded the positive impact of, among other things, safer drinking water and fish that are safer to eat in waterways downstream from power plants.   When the full range of benefits is taken into account, the strongest possible regulations are justified.

“Americans will be much healthier because of this rule, and that has a huge economic benefit,” said Abel Russ, the lead author of the report and Attorney at Environmental Integrity Project.?”If you add it all up, looking at the human health benefits alone, the rule will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic value each year.”

For a copy of the report, visit: http://bit.ly/1ff7wmD

DOW Weed Killer & People & Butterflies…..

Dear Friend,

2,4-D.

Dow Chemical Co. calls it a weed killer. But it has the potential to harm a lot more than weeds.

As I write, Dow Chemical Co. is seeking the EPA’s approval to market its new herbicide Enlist Duo, a toxic mix of 2,4-D and glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. If it’s approved, it will be sprayed on millions of acres of genetically engineered crops. This dangerous mixture has been shown to increase the risk of endocrine and reproductive system disruption, Parkinson’s disease and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) have written a Congressional sign-on letter urging the EPA and USDA to reject Dow’s application for Enlist Duo. There’s no time to waste – please ask your representative to join them and sign the letter today. We only have until this Friday, July 25, to get as many Congressional signers as we possibly can.

Click here to urge your representative to stand up against this new toxic herbicide mix and tell the EPA and USDA to deny Dow’s application.

When EWG’s analysts dug into the potential dangers of this toxic herbicide, one of the most alarming facts they found is the shocking number of schools that are close to soy and corn fields where Enlist Duo could be sprayed – more than 5,600 schools, to be exact. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want my child anywhere near this stuff.

On top of the very real threats to human health, widespread use of 2,4-D would affect dozens of endangered species and potentially worsen the decline of honeybees and other essential insects.This is a no-brainer – we must do whatever we can to put a stop to this toxic weed killer before it hits the market.

Click here right now to tell your representative to sign the Congressional letter urging the EPA and USDA to reject Dow Chemical’s application for Enlist Duo.

Thank you for taking action on such an important issue.

Sincerely,

Ken Cook
President, Environmental Working Group

Sockeye Salmon vs. Pebble Mine

The Controversial Debate to Protect a Fragile Ecosystem from Destruction

In the first instalment of Samuel Snyder’s two article spread in Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, focuses on the background of the hotly debated Pebble Mine issue. “Bristol Bay Wild Salmon, Pebble Mine, and Intractable Conflict: Lessons for Environmental Studies and Sciences” lays the foundation for the extremely controversial topic of building the proposed Pebble Mine just miles away from Bristol Bay, Alaska. When referring to Alaska as the last great frontier, Bristol Bay is what would come to mind. It is 40,000 square miles teaming with caribou, wolves, moose, and, most importantly, salmon. “Bristol Bay is home to the world’s largest runs of sockeye salmon with returns averaging 37.5 million annually and having been as high as 60 million.” 

The mining company, Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) would like to build a large-scale mine in order to access the largest copper-gold-molybdenum deposits in the world. Despite the estimated numbers of the mine, studies show “that roughly 99% of the mined ore body is waste.” The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has reported that the mining could remove 94 miles of streams and 5,350 acres of wetlands that contain about 90% of fish vital to the subsistence life.

This issue has brought together an unlikely and eclectic opposition group that contains hunters, anglers, Republicans, Democrats, Alaskans, and global citizens. This has called for the U.S. EPA to launch a two year investigation into the effects to wild life, if the mine was approved. Their findings indicated, simply, that at a minimum, mining ‘would cause the loss of spawning and rearing habitat for multiple salmoniods.’

However, the fight against Pebble Mine is far from over. Important decisions related to the outcome of this battle are being determined now. Snyder’s analysis and comment in regards to these developments will be recorded in an upcoming issue of Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development.

To access the article go to, visit  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00139157.2014.881693#.U1U561VdXxI

Here is the  magazine title Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development , author Samuel Snyder and published by Taylor & Francis.

Power Plant Rule a Tipping Point for Clean Energy Economy

By: Cheryl Roberto, Associate Vice President, Clean Energy

For those of us (and all of you) who’ve been urging the government to implement meaningful climate policy, the release yesterday of a plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants has been a long time coming. But it finally came.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution rule for existing fossil-fueled power plants – also known as the Clean Power Plan – are a huge win for our climate.

We also think it could go down in history as the tipping point in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy. Here’s why:

Old, dirty power plants will be retired

The nation’s fleet of coal-fired power plants is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. Placing carbon regulations on this source of electricity for the first time in history will transform our energy system.

Coal Fired for Clean? Sounds like an easy decision, but the details are what make us energy efficient or not. These decisions are worth keeping our eyes on!  — the editor

Utilities have acknowledged that it doesn’t make economic sense to pour money into retrofitting and retaining older, less-reliable coal-fired power plants when they need to focus investments on newer and more reliable plants.

This means that many of the most highly-polluting coal-fired power plants that provide electricity to our homes and businesses today will be retired. It presents a unique opportunity for clean energy solutions to fill the gap in generating capacity.

Increasing our use of homegrown, renewable power sources and investing in proven tools such as energy efficiency, smart grids, and demand response (which compensates electricity customers for conserving energy) will help fill this gap while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels that pollute the environment and contribute to climate change.

States will lead the way

EPA’s approach provides clear guidance for what limits and metrics must be met, but leaves states the flexibility to design solutions to meet those requirements as they see fit. This will encourage all states (even those which do not embrace the climate challenge) to look at clean energy technology as an attractive option when they seek to comply with the law.

Federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants are exactly the clarity states need to lead us to clean, reliable and affordable energy for all Americans – now and in the future.

Entrepreneurs, investors ready to jump in

What’s more, the new EPA plan – once it’s final – will give entrepreneurs, corporations, and venture capitalists the market signal they need to go full steam ahead with low-carbon innovations. It may be one of the largest market opportunities in history to drive the development and implementation of clean energy on a national level.

At Environmental Defense Fund, we’re right in the middle of many of these promising solutions, working with state legislators and regulators to clear outdated rules that mire us in the past and discourage innovators.

Paving the way for a cleaner, healthier future

We’re working with financial institutions to develop new funding opportunities for clean energy investments that will help raise the estimated $10.5 trillion needed over the next two decades to transition our world to a clean energy economy.

We’re working with energy research pioneer Pecan Street Inc. in Austin, TX to test customer energy management solutions such as rooftop solar, home energy storage, learning thermostats, and time-of-use energy pricing (which incentivizes people to use electricity during periods of low, or “off-peak”, energy demand).

And we’re pushing to make energy efficiency a cornerstone of America’s energy policy.

It may not be as sexy as fuel cells and solar panels, but building a more efficient energy system — from power plants to transmission lines to homes and buildings — is the most affordable and cleanest path forward.

The United States is expected to spend about $2 trillion over the next two decades to replace our outdated electric infrastructure. These new regulations are a step in the right direction toward ensuring that these investments are spent on our future and not entrenching us in our past.

EPA’s proposed rule means good jobs, economic development, and a healthier planet.

And as a pioneer at the forefront of this movement, EDF is determined to make sure we stay on track.

A Stronger America: Cutting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants and Cleaner, Safer Energy

(Washington D.C. – May 27, 2014) America’s fleet of fossil fueled power plants is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world.  The Carbon Pollution Standards, which are expected to be announced next week, will finally put national limits on the amount of carbon pollution emitted by fossil fuel fired power plants.  Standards are for future and existing power plants are urgently needed, have broad-based support, and can ensure that America forges a strong and prosperous clean energy economy.
EPA has indicated that each state will have the flexibility to design a tailored, cost-effective plan to secure the needed emission reductions from existing plants.
Here are more facts you should know about the Carbon Pollution Standards:
Americans strongly support climate action. Public polling has found that:
  • 64% of Americans believe the government should limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants to address climate change and improve public health.
  • 61% of Americans said developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority for the President and Congress.
  • More than half of small business owners support limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants. Furthermore, this poll indicated that “six in 10 agree expanded use of renewable energy sources can have economic benefits for small-business owners.”
The impacts of climate disasters across the United States in recent years are staggering, and they are expected to intensify with climate change:
  • In 2013, there were seven climate disasters each costing more than $1 billion, including, devastating floods in Colorado and extreme drought in Western states.
  • The 2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA) predicts that heavy precipitation events and flooding will intensify in many U.S. regions, causing deaths, destroying infrastructure, and exacerbating waterborne and airborne illnesses.
  • The NCA also finds that sea-level rise will threaten power plants and energy infrastructure on both coasts and interrupt shipping and other transportation.
  • Temperature increases, precipitation extremes, and weeds, insects, and diseases are expected to have increasingly negative impacts on crops and livestock, while wildfires, drought, insect infestations, and disease outbreaks damage our nation’s forests.
  • The toll on public health will increase as air quality worsens. Warming is projected to make existing smog worse, leading to hospital admissions and emergency room visits for asthma attacks and premature deaths — potentially more than 4,000 per year by 2050.
  • A recent study found that, as temperatures rise, summertime surface ozone (which creates smog) will increase over most of the U.S. by 2050. Smoke from wildfires will also trigger asthma attacks, chest pain, pulmonary disease, and respiratory infections, and cost thousands of lives annually.
The hidden cost of dirty energy is too high, while clean energy is prospering:
  • Americans are paying the hidden cost of coal pollution, while coal plants get a free ride. Coal plant pollution causes asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature deaths. A study from Harvard estimates that generating electricity from coal costs Americans $330 to $500 billion every single year. In fact, another study found that the damages caused by coal plants are more than double (and as much as five times greater) than the economic value of coal generation in the economy.
  • Between 2008 and 2012, wind generation in the United States increased by more than 330 percent. The average of residential electricity prices in the top ten wind-producing states is 8% below the average of nationwide electricity prices for the contiguous United States. (read more here and here)
  • In 2012, rooftop solar panels cost approximately one percent of what they did 35 years ago. Since 2008, as the cost of a solar module dropped from $3.40 per watt to 80 cents per watt, solar deployment has jumpedby about 10 times.
Carbon pollution standards will provide regulatory certainty to power companies that are making medium- and long-term investment decisions now – decisions that have enormous environmental and economic implications for our future.
Strong standards will also help lock in the carbon reductions we have already achieved, ensure we stay on the path to a cleaner energy economy, and help address the significant negative public health and environmental effects of generating energy from dirtier fuel sources.
Americans are already paying for those negative effects as pollution damages their health, security, and welfare. It is long past time to stop giving the biggest sources of carbon pollution in this country a free pass.
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF VoicesTwitter and Facebook.

Environmental Discussion at Stanford Today

Earth Day talk by Lisa Jackson
Lisa Jackson, vice president of environmental initiatives at Apple and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, will speak about her experience in these roles. Though tickets are free, seating is limited. See website for tickets. April 22, 7:30-9 p.m. Free. Stanford University, Memorial Auditorium, 551 Serra Mall, Stanford.

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Greeneroo saltues You and your Environmental Volunteerism, Caring about our Planet, Eating whole foods, and whatever else you are doing.

We NEED our Bees!

Bees are essential for one of three bites of food we eat, from almonds to soybeans to strawberries — but they’re in trouble. Last winter, beekeepers reported losses of 50-70 percent of their hives — the worst year yet since the global bee die-off began. Pests, diseases, and changing climate have all contributed to this die-off, but a growing body of scientific evidence points to the most widely-used pesticide on the planet, neonicotinoids (neonics) as the driving force behind this crisis. There is a large body of protest and controversy on both sides of this issue, as you would predict the companies producing neonics discuss their efficacy, and protest the testing methods. Neonics were thought to be a great improvement over thier precusor, organophosphates.

And neonics aren’t just used on commercial crops. These toxic pesticides are on the shelf at your local garden store – some supposedly “bee friendly” products actually contains bee-killing pesticides!

What’s even more shocking — many of the plants and seeds we buy from garden centers have been pre-treated with neonics, at doses up to 120 times higher than those used on farms. So, instead of helping bees in our gardens, we may be unknowingly poisoning them!

Fortunately, the European Union has just imposed a two-year ban on these toxic pesticides, and after a campaign by Friends of the Earth in the United Kingdom, major home and garden retailers in the UK have pledged to stop selling neonics.

“More than 30 separate scientific studies have found a link between the neonicotinoids, which attack insects’ nerve systems, and falling bee numbers. The proposal by European Commission – the EU’s legislative body – to ban the insecticides was based on a study by the European Food Safety Authority, which found in January that the pesticides did pose a risk to bees’ health.”  —The Independent 5/29 article

Neonics are not only thought to harm honey bees, but also other helpful insects, like butterflies, bumble bees, dragonflies and ladybugs, and they may be impacting entire food chains — contributing to falling bird populations. These persistent toxins contaminate the soil for years, permeate the entire plant and are found in pollen, nectar and dew. Because they can’t be washed off food, we are all eating them daily.

Chemical companies like Bayer and Syngenta have been lobbying non-stop to end the ban in the European Union and prevent regulation in the U.S., where EPA has delayed action on these toxins until 2018.

But the bees can’t wait until 2018, we must develop a strategy based on solid science to find all the threats to our primary pollinators.

Green Apps

sustain textbooks GREEN PHONE APPS — Gathered and ready to review on the EPA site. This is cool, searchable and you can look by category / platform.  You can recommend the ones you want. There is a contest for the best suggestions. More info on the Apps Challenge!

I would like an app to help me find the flower bulbs that squirrels don’t eat. The bag says deer-proof, however, I am having trouble with the little furry (cute) squirrels.  Oh well. I hope that they enjoy them!

Reducing Greenhouse Emissions

When you think about sources of human-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), what are some of the first things that come to mind? You’d probably pick trucks, planes, and cars  — as obvious sources. Some people might add cow farts, that has been in the news as well. Many of the greenhouse gases are generated by the businesses we work in and things like our homes, cars, and transportation choices.

Our emissions – greenhouse gases – are something we need to think about.  This is the first step to GHG reduction. We all contribute to climate change in many ways. Several responsible companies have set stringent goals to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions  by a certain percentage with a time frame. This is a critical step in the process, we all need to understand what is happening and SET clear goals f0r individuals, groups, corporations, states – ALL OF USto accomplish a change.

Here then, is a table of GHGs. I hope it’s informative for you and helps you understand the role of each of us!

Sources* of greenhouse gas emissions:

Sources of  greenhouse gas emissions in a large Company

Examples of how it can apply to you*

The BULK (often >80%) of greenhousegas emissions for many companies come from purchased electricity to support, for example:

  • Heating and cooling
  • Lighting, signs
  • Data centers, computing infrastructure, computers, and communications tools
  • Refrigerators, vending machines, water coolers and coffee pots 
At home, what do you use electricity for? Where does electricity come from? Did you know:

Also consider the  emissions come from natural gas, fuel oil, gasoline and other fuels used for:

  • Vehicles
  • Heating and cooling
  • Backup generators

A tiny percentage of emissions also come from refrigerants and fire suppressants.

As a general rule of thumb, each gallon of gasoline is assumed to produce 19.4 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. [Source: EPA Emission Facts: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle]
If you travel to meet clients or for business meetings, emissions come from business travel by commercial airlines. Many companies have reduced the travel that they do, and rely more on web seminars, (Web Ex, Live Meeting, Go to Meeting). This level of consumption is variable, Allowing (encouraging) virtual employees and meetings help, still, most companies have a large travel budget. Even though airlines generally keep to a schedule and fly with or without us, individual contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from air travel is tracked at a rate of about ½ lb. of greenhouse gas emissions per mile traveled. [Source: 2005 National Transportation Statistics and EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory ]So a roundtrip from New York to Paris will run you over 3,500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
Other emissions can come from team member commutes, printing and paper use, waste, water, armored cars, express mail, etc.We currently do not track those emissions as part of our greenhouse gas emissions accounting, which follows The Corporate Accounting & Reporting Standards   (PDF) developed by the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Where to your “other” emissions come from? How does what you purchase affect your emissions?Take the Ecological Footprint Quiz  to see other categories — such as food, furniture and cleaning supplies — that can affect your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions as well as your overall environmental impact.

*Please consider figures used in this column as rough estimates. There are a number of factors and nuances that go into more precise greenhouse gas emission accounting. For examples, short distance flights are more greenhouse gas emission intensive than long-distance flights.

For details about  greenhouse gas emissions, please review the 2009 Carbon Disclosure Project.