Archive | Air Pollutants

Clean Air Regulations to Create 1.5M Jobs, Report Finds

An upcoming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal that will mandate air pollution laws for industrial facilities could create 1.5 million jobs over the next five years, according to a new report.

The study by Ceres and the Political Economy Research Institute claims that the new federal regulations will generate engineering, construction and pipefitting positions as facilities work to meet pollution standards and as older, inefficient plants are dismantled.

“New Jobs – Cleaner Air” predicts $200 billion in capital improvements in the electric power industry in the 36 Eastern states over the next five years.

The report flies in the face of the frequent objection by Republicans that a shift to clean energy would be “job killing,” forcing coal industry workers out of employment.

“The bottom line: clean air is a worthwhile investment,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, as quoted by AP.

Most of the 1.46 million jobs created over the next five years would be temporary, related to power industry investment in the construction of new facilities.

But the clean air regulations would trigger more than 2,000 permanent positions in operations and maintenance, according to the report released Tuesday at the 2011 Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference in Washington, D.C.

The new EPA regulations – designed to reduce smog-causing emissions in the East, reduce mercury output, and curtail other harmful pollutants – are expected to be finalized later this year.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution Prevention0 Comments

Pollution Standards Won’t Apply to All, EPA Says

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday reversed pollutions standards for a California power plant waiting for a permit, and the decision could leave a dozen additional industrial facilities exempt from the stringent new rules as well, The Associated Press said Wednesday.

A top EPA official reportedly told a federal panel that a California facility would not have to comply with new federal air pollution regulations.

The EPA on Wednesday appeared before a Senate panel to go over its new federal controls on heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Republicans say the new restrictions will kill jobs and slow economic growth.

AP reported Wednesday that the reversal could exempt about 10 to 20 industrial facilities from the standards on smog and pollutants responsible for acid rain.
An EPA official said the change would not influence efforts to fight global warming.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution Prevention, Air Pollution Remediation0 Comments

Russian Waterworks Uses Giant Snails as Air Pollution Sensors

A Russian waterworks facility is using six giant African snails to monitor air pollution from its sewage incinerator.

The Achatina snails, which can grow up to 20 cm in height, have been fitted with heart monitors and motion sensors so that researchers can keep an eye on the effects of air pollution. Their readings will be compared with a control group, AFP reports.

The waterworks chose the snails as air pollution sensors because they have lungs and breathe air, the Vodokanal state utilities company said.

Dmitry Artamonov, the head of the Saint Petersburg office of Greenpeace environmental campaigning group, criticized the move as a publicity stunt.

“Burning sludge emits toxic dioxins,” AFP quoted Artamonov as saying. “I don’t know if snails get cancer, but even if they do, it won’t happen straight away, and we will not hear about it from Vodokanal.”

The sewage treatment facility, which is located on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg, is one of the biggest in Russia.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution Prevention, Bugs, Insects, & Invertebrates0 Comments

Biomass Gets a Boost: EPA Eases Up on Regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scaling back on greenhouse gas permitting requirements for facilities that burn biomass.

The EPA said it would take a three-year deferral to determine whether the biomass materials – which include farm waste, sawmill scraps and forest thinnings – should be considered a green resource.

The deferral came after members of Congress put pressure on the EPA to ease up on regulations, saying the stringent rules on industrial carbon emissions would get in the way of developing a new biomass industry that could act as a major job creator and a source of domestically produced fuel.

“We are working to find a way forward that is scientifically sound and manageable for both producers and consumers of biomass energy. In the coming years we will develop a commonsense approach that protects our environment and encourages the use of clean energy,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a news release. “Renewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change.”

The EPA said it would amend the regulation issued earlier this month that included biomass facilities in emissions regulations. The new rule will go into effect July 1.

More than two dozen members of Congress contend that that biomass can be considered carbon neutral if regulators count emissions as something that would result anyway when wood rots.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has launched an initiative to create jobs by putting people to work thinning national forests to reduce the threat of forest fires. To pay for those jobs, he’ll need nearby biomass-burning facilities that will purchase trees and branches from thinned woodlands.

Timberland owners, who have been struggling with declining lumber prices since the housing market tanked, say biomass should be considered a green fuel.

“It is now critical that we work together in the coming months on deliberate steps to support biomass energy production,” Dave Tenny, president of the National Alliance of Forest Owners, said in a statement, according to AP.

Others say biomass isn’t as green as it seems. Meg Sheehan of the Stop Spewing Carbon Campaign in Cambridge, Mass. claims that the EPA is ignoring the fact that biomass produces more greenhouse gas than coal.

“I find it very disturbing that the Obama administration and [USDA] Secretary [Tom] Vilsack are punting on making this decision until after the next presidential election,” AP quoted Sheehan as saying. “I think it shows extreme disregard for the health of the American people.”

Posted in Air Pollutants, Biofuels & Biomass, Global Warming & Climate Change, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Electric Cars Would Cause Added CO2 Emissions in Certain Countries

Electric cars are commonly hailed as eco-friendly alternatives to harmful gasoline-burning vehicles, but a study by Oxford University’s Reed Doucette and Malcolm McCulloch suggests that the adoption of electric cars may actually accelerate global climate change.

The results of the modeling exercise, which were published in Energy Policy last Fall, indicate that developing countries would emit more, not less, CO2 if electric cars were to eclipse gas-based vehicles.

Researchers assessed the emissions of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and internal combustion engines (ICEs) in various countries. They found that countries with high CO2 intensities – like China and India – failed to see a decrease in heat-trapping gases from the adoption of BEVs.

China and India rely on dirty power supplies, so the generation of energy for BEVs would still be environmentally harmful, and could actually lead to higher CO2 emissions.

“Given the state of their power generation mixes in 2010, the case for widespread adoption of [electric vehicles] in both China and India solely on the basis of potential CO2 emissions reductions is not too compelling, especially when the generally higher capital cost of [electric vehicles] relative to [gasoline]-based vehicles is considered,” Doucette and Malcolm McCulloch concluded.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Electricity, Global Warming & Climate Change0 Comments

Shell’s Arctic Clean Air Permits Revoked

Alaska Native and environmental groups have successfully thrown a wrench in Shell’s plans to drill exploration wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

An order by the Environmental Appeals Board remanded Shell Offshore Inc.’s clean air permits, which were granted by the Environmental Protection Agency. Shell spokesman Curtis Smith told The Associated Press that the company cannot proceed with the proposed drilling plans in 2011 without the permits.

The review by the federal board found that the EPA’s estimation of the impact on Alaska Native communities was too limited. It also contended that the agency’s analysis of impact caused by nitrogen dioxide emissions from drill ships and support vessels was inadequate.

The appeal was filed by the Arctic Eskimo Whaling Commission, the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthjustice on behalf of other organizations.

Rebecca Noblin, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity in Anchorage, said the ruling coincides with the groups’ assertion that the EPA “rushed” the drilling permits through the process. “It’s time for the administration to take a step back and rethink the foolhardy rush to drill in the fragile Arctic Ocean,” she told the Alaska Dispatch in an e-mailed statement.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Quality Standards & Emissions, Drilling for Oil, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Texas Farmers, Pecan Growers Blame Vegetation Death on Power Plant

Environmentalists, scientists, plant specialists, and farmers say that sulfur dioxide from a Texas coal-fired power plant is causing extensive swaths of vegetation death in the region.

Pecan growers have reported plant devastation near the Fayette Power Project, a 30-year-old facility in Ellinger, Texas. They say the power plant, which is operated by the Lower Colorado River Authority, emits sulfur dioxide that has caused thousands of trees to die and nut production to steadily plummet.

“There was an environmental catastrophe,” local horticulturalist Jim Berry told MSNBC.

“It wasn’t just the pecan groves,” he said. “It was the entire ecosystem that was under duress.”

Sulfur dioxide has been known to kill plants in other parts of the country, AP reports.

The Lower Colorado River Authority claims that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the plant is responsible for the dying trees, blaming the damage on recent droughts instead.

The Environmental Protection Agency toured some of the farms and is currently reviewing data, AP reports.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Industrial Pollution, Plants, Algae, & Fungi (Botany)0 Comments

EPA Takes Over Texas Carbon Emission Permits

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday announced its plans to take over carbon dioxide permitting of any new power plants and refineries in Texas, citing the state’s refusal to comply with emissions regulations going into effect Jan. 2.

Texas industries have openly opposed the Obama administration’s Clean Air Act, a program designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They claim that the cuts will threaten productivity, and that the economy, in turn, will take a hit.

The EPA said Thursday that it was reassuming the state’s Clean Air Act Permits because “officials in Texas have made clear . . . they have no intention of implementing this portion of the federal air permitting program,” The Associated Press reported.

“EPA prefers that the state of Texas and all states remain the permitting authority for (greenhouse gas) sources,” the agency said in a statement. “In the same way that EPA has worked with other states and local agencies, the agency stands ready to do the same with (Texas).”

The EPA constructed a framework for carbon emissions regulations in seven other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming.

The agency also devised a timetable for establishing the cuts for all U.S. facilities and power plants. It plans to propose performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions beginning in July for powerplants and for oil refineries by December. The standards will be finalized in May 2012 for powerplants and November 2012 for refineries.

Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman spoke out against the EPA’s decision to directly issue air permits in Texas.

“The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families,” Cesinger said, according to the San Antonio Express.

An estimated 167 new or expanding projects would be subject to the EPA takeover. Texas lays claim to more oil refineries, chemical plants, and coal-fired power plants than any other state and produces the most greenhouse gas emissions and industrial pollution in the country, AP reports.

The new carbon emissions standards were adopted after a 2007 Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases should be classified as pollutants under the Clean Air Act and EPA research in 2009 revealed that the gases have a harmful effect on human health.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Coal, Courts & Litigation, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Global Warming, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Ozone, Policies, Pollution Prevention0 Comments

Ethanol Fuel Additive Law Brings Automakers to Appeals Court

U.S. carmakers and engine manufacturers have filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over its decision to allow the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.

The EPA ruled on Oct. 13th that filling stations could start selling gasoline containing more of the corn-based additive for vehicles built in 2007 or later. The current blend contains 10 percent ethanol.

The various organizations Monday asked a federal appeals court in Washington to review the October decision. They claim the approval of the E15 blend violates the Clean Air Act, and that the fuel could damage engines.

“We want to be sure that any new fuel will not increase air pollution, harm engines or endanger consumer safety,” Michael J. Stanton, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, said in a joint statement with the other members of the Engine Products Group, according to BusinessWeek.

The Renewable Fuels Association,  an ethanol trade group, said the EPA should have allowed E15 for more models.

“The only way to meet the nation’s energy, economic and environmental goals as put forth in the Renewable Fuels Standard is to increase ethanol consumption,” the group said in a statement.

The suit, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 10-1414, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Policies0 Comments

Pollution May Not Up Pre-eclampsia Risk

SEATTLE, July 8 (UPI) — Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy does not appear to increase the risk of preterm delivery or pre-eclampsia, a U.S. researcher says.

Carole Rudra of the University at Buffalo in New York says strong evidence that air pollutants may increase risk of cardiovascular disease led her to examine air pollutants in relation to a complication of pregnancy — similar in some ways to cardiovascular disease — known as pre-eclampsia. In pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week can result in preterm delivery.

However, an analysis of the data could not find an association between the amount of air pollutant exposure at the mother’s residence — as measured by exposure to concentrations of carbon monoxide and by exposure to minute airborne particles during specific times during the pregnancy — and the pregnancy complications.

“In this geographic setting and population, these two air pollutant exposures do not appear to increase risks of pre-eclampsia and pre-term delivery,” Rudra says in a statement.

The research, conducted in the region around Seattle was based on data from 3,675 women enrolled in the Omega Study, an investigation of the effects of diet and environment on women’s health and nutrition before and during pregnancy.

Rudra presented the results in Seattle at the annual meeting of the Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.

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