The Pacific Northwest ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver, BC updated their clean air strategy by setting goals to reduce diesel particulate matter emissions by 75 percent per ton of cargo by 2015, rising to 80 percent by 2020.
Relative to 2005 baseline, the ports’ goal is also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per ton of cargo by 10 percent by 2015 and 15 percent by 2020.
Combined with projected cargo growth in the region—which may be optimistic on the ports’ part— the draft 2013 Update is forecasting overall emission reductions of 70 percent by 2015 and 75 percent by 2020.
Don’t think it’s possible to provide clean and renewable energy that creates jobs and fuels private investment? Think again and then check out CLEAN LA Solar.
A program developed and supported by the Los Angeles Business Council, a coalition of environmental, business, health and research organizations, and the CLEAN LA Coalition, it’s the largest urban rooftop solar program in the nation. Its five-year goal is to power more than 34,000 homes while creating some 4,500 construction, installation, design engineering, maintenance and administrative jobs in Los Angeles.
CLEAN LA Solar allows businesses and commercial property-owners to generate energy for the city’s power grid through rooftop solar panels, and then sell the power to the Department of Water and Power (DWP). This policy is known as a feed-in-tariff (FiT), and is a great way to promote clean, solar energy.
In a very basic way, Environmental Justice is about the intersection of human rights, infrastructure and how people–rich and poor, living in rich or developing countries–equitably and sustainably access the resources and things they need to survive and prosper. Robert Bullard, an environmental sociologist and Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, is passionate about the human side of Environmental Justice and “unequal” environmental protection.
“Environmental Justice embraces the principle that people and communities are entitled to equal protection of our environment, health, employment, education, housing, transportation and civil rights laws….Environmental Justice brings it all together under one tent.”
The Environmental Justice movement has grown both in public awareness, attitudes and action since the signing of Executive Order 12898 in 1994. Progress has been made, but is it a success? President Clinton’s order was 20 years ago, and the question remains whether EJ today is more than a finger in the dyke in the face of forces such as the House of Representatives members who would like to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, or countries and companies bent on the privatization of water. Many programs to improve communities focus on small issues like bike paths, parks and sidewalks, but we still plan to send hundreds of coal export trains through low income communities and site landfills in them.
A major question facing people who live on the “other side of the tracks” — places where landfills, water treatment plants, chemical plants and refineries tend to be located — is if the Environmental Justice movement is real and effective. The results are mixed, because as Bullard says, “there is always the other side of the tracks” for the elderly, the poor, the disabled, the homeless and those without access to cars or to transit systems. Poor communities wind up with a “disproportionate share of the bad stuff and a shortage of libraries, sidewalks, parks and greenspace.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s warning and major initiative about the impact of climate change on the city might seem like something out of a “hard” science fiction novel, for instance Flood by Stephen Baxter.
Only it’s not fiction.
“I strongly believe we have to prepare for what scientists say is a likely scenario,” Bloomberg said at a press briefing last week at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
He cited the perils of climate change and the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in his call for a $19.5 billion initiative that would include new coastal protections and zoning codes for the city as well as new standards for telecommunications and for providing fuel.
Something is decidedly fishy about the changing nature of what we eat. No klaxons blared when a major milestone was reached in 2011: for the first time, farmed fish production topped beef production worldwide.
And that was no fluke, because the gap widened last year as fish farming, or aquaculture, reached a record 66 million tons, compared to beef production of 63 million tons. And, according to an Earth Policy Institute report, 2013 might be the first year that people consume more fish raised on farms than wild-caught fish.
The Supreme Court has ruled in favor—at least in part—of a trucking industry group’s challenge to the Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program, which features a comprehensive licensing program on the port’s freight truck traffic.
The high court unanimously ruled that the Port of Los Angeles may not impose the placarding and parking provisions of its concession plan on trucking companies. Thus, it upheld a significant part of the position that American Trucking Association took in pushing for the court’s review and reversal of the port’s concession agreement earlier this year.
The court declined to rule on a second aspect of the case, however, involving how the port enforces its financial capacity and truck maintenance requirements.
The U.S. Department of Justice, along with Arkansas, filed a joint lawsuit that could give ExxonMobil a slight slap on the wrist for the March pipeline spill of about 5,000 barrels of heavy Canadian crude oil in the Mayflower residential neighborhood.
The June 13 U.S. District Court filing in Little Rock, AR seeks civil penalties and damages at the federal and state levels for ExxonMobil’s “unlawful discharge of heavy crude oil from a 20-inch-diameter interstate pipeline – the Pegasus Pipeline – that ruptured in Mayflower on March 29.”
The segment of the Pegasus Pipeline that ruptured was buried about two feet below the ground and the oil spilled directly into the neighborhood, contaminating 22 homes, and then into nearby waterways, including a creek, wetlands, and Lake Conway. Residents were forced to evacuate their homes due to the hazardous conditions in the neighborhood. “The oil has contaminated land and waterways and impacted human health and welfare, wildlife, and habitat,” DOJ says. Cleanup efforts continue, and many residents still have not been able to return home.
The question—by a guest blogger on ThinkProgress—was, “How will ExxonMobil adapt to the climate change crisis it helped create?”
Wait – adapt? Does ExxonMobil have plans to adapt? And does the oil major even acknowledge climate change or that it helped create it?
So, the premise of the piece was somewhat sketchy from the get-go—until one saw who wrote it: Jane Dale Owen, the granddaughter of Robert Lee Blaffer, one of the founders of Humble Oil and Refining Company, the parent company of ExxonMobil.
Owen is president and founder of Citizens League for Environmental Action Now (CLEAN), an organization that provides news, information and education about global and local environmental issues.
Given that lineage, it gets somewhat interesting, so, let’s see what Owen had to say.
Label this one under the category of the news that’s not too surprising, but somewhat depressing nonetheless. In an effort to provide “fair and balanced” coverage on climate change, the mainstream press and media “routinely cites climate contrarian think tanks without reporting their ties to the fossil fuel industry,” according to a Union of Concerned Scientists investigation.
This is a basic journalistic no-no.
Two-for-one is usually a superior deal, especially when it comes to renewable energy and efficiency.
And that’s what is happening with a new solar dish that does what solar installations do, convert sunlight into power, but with an interesting twist: clean water.
The efficiency of the typical solar installation ranges from 10 to 20 percent, with the rest waste heat. Swiss researchers associated with IBM have developed the High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal system (HCPVT), which uses that waste solar heat to generate fresh water.
Say you’re planning a good old-fashioned road trip in the U.S. of A. You’ll get your kicks on Route 66. Or something. But there’s one niggling problem– you’re into the small carbon footprint lifestyle and you drive an electric vehicle.
Suddenly you contract a severe case of range anxiety.
That malady, along with base price, is also a barrier for many considering the EV jump.
Fiat and BMW feel your pain and have come up with a solution of sorts that might boost their EV sales: They will give customers free access to conventional gas-powered cars when they need them for long trips.
Devouring a tasty bushel of “mega-crabs” from the Chesapeake Bay is pretty good if you’re a big fan of the Maryland Blue Crab, but not so good if that enjoyment comes at the expense of the oyster population there.
Large water desalinization plants that will replenish water supplies hit by shrinking aquifers are good, but those plants require a tremendous amount of energy produced from heavily polluting coal-fired plants, a March 18 New Yorker story reported.
It’s hard not to get the feeling that addressing climate pollution is often a case of one step forward and two steps back. Or, like an intense and deadly game of whack-a-mole.
According to a recent Washington Post report, carbon pollution from power plants, factories and vehicles is settling in the ocean—resulting in super-sized crabs, lobsters and shrimp. While the crustaceans bulk up as they absorb CO2, high levels of carbon cause oysters to grow slower, the story continues. “In the Chesapeake Bay, where crabs eat oysters, this could lead to a multimillion [dollar] problem as mega crabs threaten the oyster industry.”
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act last year the “conventional wisdom” from restaurants and many other businesses was that they could not afford Obamacare.
The National Restaurant Association said paying for employee health care would be a burden, because the ACA would “impact restaurant operators’ ability to grow and create jobs.” That, of course, is a knee-jerk talking point directly from the Republican play book. Obamacare is “unworkable” because of the high labor costs and low profit margins of the industry, they howled.
Was all this weeping, wailing and rending of aprons really necessary? Not really, according to the latest reporting from ThinkProgress’s Rebecca Leber.
While Congress wrestles with budget decisions, sequesters and the pros and cons of austerity, there is a fairly easy way to save the U.S. economy a cool $1 trillion.
That’s by getting serious about energy efficiency.
Wait—before your eyes start rolling, or they glaze over entirely, pay a little attention to what the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) says.
In a report this month, ACEEE identifies policies that would remove market barriers across the economy to investments in energy efficiency. Overcoming Market Barriers and Using Market Forces to Advance Energy Efficiency, “provides Congress and state policymakers with a road map to address national energy consumption through policies that could save the country approximately $1 trillion in energy bills and 19 quads in energy consumption,” the council says.
Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing but trouble and bad news when it comes to reporting about climate change and the environment. But there is some good news regarding ground level ozone courtesy of research from Rice University and the EPA.
This stuff can get a bit technical, but thanks to the EPA the difference between ground level ozone and high-altitude ozone, in simple terms, is: ozone is “good up high, bad nearby.” We need that high altitude ozone layer to protect the atmosphere and, well, us. But ground level ozone, created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight, is harmful to breathe.
So here’s the good news on ozone: While dangerous ozone levels have fallen in places that have clamped down on emissions from vehicles and from industrial activity, the Rice University study suggests that a model—known as the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ)—that is widely used to predict the impact of remediation efforts has been too conservative.
In other words nasty ground ozone levels are declining, and even better, the decline is much more dramatic than the CMAQ assessment model otherwise indicates.