Archive | Pollution & Toxins

Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme Gains Support in Australian Government

CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 25 (UPI) — The Australian government struck a deal Tuesday with opposition leaders on a revised carbon emissions trading scheme, clearing the way for the Senate to approve legislation this week.

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme aims to cut Australia’s emissions by between 5 percent and 15 percent from their 2000 levels within 10 years.

The deal follows five weeks of intense bargaining in which the government met opposition demands for increased compensation for coal miners, electricity generators and other large polluters. The Senate had rejected a similar bill in August.

Under the concessions, the coal industry will receive $1.5 billion over the next five years, double the previous level of assistance. Electricity generators will get $7.3 billion in assistance over 10 years, up from $3.9 billion. The cost for producing carbon dioxide will begin at $9.24 per metric ton until July 2012. Thereafter, the market will determine the cost.

Under the revised plan, the government will increase the assistance available to the electricity sector from 130.7 million permits to 228.7 million permits, an increase of 75 percent. It will also increase the period over which the permits are available from five years to 10.

Australia’s carbon trading scheme could serve as a model for other countries, including the United States, during next month’s climate-change talks in Copenhagen, Robert Stavins, director of Harvard University’s environmental economics program, told Bloomberg.

Australia, the world’s largest exporter of coal, is also the biggest per-capita producer of greenhouse gases, with an average output of 20.5 tons of carbon dioxide per person each year.

“It is significant that Australia — a country with significant coal resources, dependence on coal for electricity generation, and great sensitivity of its energy-intensive industries to international competition with Asian countries — would move forward with a climate policy,” Stavins said. “Prime Minister Rudd has already been a leader internationally in climate-change policy, and this development in Parliament can only strengthen that,” he said.

Stavins noted that Australia’s policy could also represent “a meaningful signal” for the United States.

The government hopes to pass the bill before the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen.

The Climate Institute of Australia Wednesday said although it opposes “extra assistance for big polluters,” it urged “immediate passage” of the carbon emissions trading scheme.

“Now is the time to move on and ensure this legislation is a springboard for ambitious global action and improved Australian carbon competitiveness, not a gangplank to drown global action or leave Australia in the backwaters of the growing global low-carbon economy,” said John Connor, chief of The Climate Institute.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy, Environmental Economics, Other, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Stands Firm on Emissions

NEW DELHI, Nov. 19 (UPI) — Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Thursday said his country would never agree to legally binding emissions and downplayed expectations for the climate-change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month.

“Internationally we reject legally binding emissions. We will never agree to that, and we are prepared to be alone in our stand, but domestically we have to be proactive in reducing carbon emissions,” Ramesh said in New Delhi while releasing a U.N. population report.

In resisting pressure to set limits on carbon output, India has long contended that doing so would slow its economic growth and that the responsibility for reducing greenhouse gases lies with longtime polluters.

Rather than committing to legally binding cuts internationally, Ramesh said, India needs to be “proactive, aggressive and ruthless” domestically to tackle climate change.

India currently emits about 3 billion tons of greenhouse gases each year, making it the world’s fourth-largest polluter.

“You should not have too much expectations from the Copenhagen summit. It looks like the negotiations would continue,” he said of talks set to begin Dec. 7 to thrash out a global deal on climate change to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

“It seems there is a long haul before we arrive at an international commitment,” Ramesh added.

Noting that climate change is a concern for India, Ramesh said his country has to regard the issue from a development perspective.

“I think there is an abundance of evidence to show that climate change is not related in any way to population growth,” he said, adding that it is more related to lifestyle. He pointed to China, saying that although it recorded negative population growth during the 1990s, its emissions continued to increase.

“Emissions are caused by consumption patterns. There is no iron law to say that India with its growing population has chances of increasing emissions,” he said.

India’s emissions are projected to rise to between 4 billion and 7.3 billion tons by 2031, according to a September report by non-governmental groups, including the global consultancy McKinsey & Co.

Ramesh said that low carbon growth would be part of the country’s new five-year plan. Some of the measures India needs to take include mandatory fuel efficiency standards, water legislation and renewable energy sources, he said.

On Wednesday Ramesh announced new standards for air quality, replacing the country’s 1994 standards and introducing limits for several pollutants not previously covered, including benzene, ozone, benzopyrene, arsenic, nickel and ammonia.

Ramesh said the new limits would push air quality standards in India to European levels.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Consumption, Energy, Ozone, Pollution & Toxins, Population Growth0 Comments

Air Pollution at Small Airports a Concern

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (UPI) — Air pollution is well-recognized problem at major airports, but air pollution near smaller regional airports may be overlooked, U.S. researchers say.

Suzanne Paulson of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues said smaller regional airports are becoming an increasingly important component of global air transport systems.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that officials should pay closer attention to these overlooked emissions, which could cause health problems for residents. Paulson and colleagues note that scientists have known for years that aircraft emissions from fuel burned during takeoffs and landings can have a serious impact on air quality near major airports.

The scientists measured a range of air pollutants near a general aviation airport for private planes and corporate jets in Southern California — Santa Monica Airport — in the spring and summer of last year.

The researchers found that emissions of ultrafine particles, which are less than 1/500th width of a human hair, were significantly elevated when compared to background pollution levels.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Aviation, Pollution & Toxins, Regional, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

South Korea Sets Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (UPI) — South Korea said it would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

The target, announced Tuesday, is roughly equivalent to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 4 percent by 2020 compared with 2005. In so doing, the government aims to cut the 2020 “business as usual” projection from 813 million tons of emissions to approximately 569 million tons.

South Korea’s decision comes on the heels of a weekend meeting in which Asia-Pacific leaders conceded that a binding global accord on emissions is not reachable in Copenhagen at the U.N.-sponsored climate-change summit next month, aiming instead for a political deal.

“South Korea’s voluntary target will stimulate efforts by the global community despite the pessimistic outlook for the Copenhagen meeting,” President Lee Myung-Bak said in a statement Tuesday.

Lee’s statement said South Korea’s target-setting was a “unilateral action” separate from the Copenhagen summit’s outcome and carbon emission cuts of other countries.

With the voluntary target-setting, South Korea aims to position itself as a bridge between developed and emerging economies in international negotiations, the statement said.

“We should have waited before announcing the target” until other nations released their goals and a binding global accord was reached, Lee Sang Youp, a research fellow at Korea Environment Institute, told Bloomberg.

The government has weighed three plans since August: cutting emissions by up to 4 percent by the end of the next decade from 2005 levels; capping them at the 2005 output; or allowing an 8 percent emissions increase by 2020.

Korea was the 16th-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world in 2005, producing 538 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to the International Energy Agency. If no actions are taken to curtail emissions, the country’s production of greenhouse gases is projected to grow 37 percent by 2020, said Kim Sang-hyup, the secretary to the president for national future and vision, the JoonAng Daily reports.

While advanced nations tend to make public commitments for an absolute amount of reduction from 2005 levels, South Korea chose to base its target on the “business as usual” approach, said Kim. Economic ministers said the method could possibly curb negative impacts on business.

Meanwhile, a Korea Times editorial said corporations and business lobbying groups quickly protested the government’s move, claiming that the target is too high for them.

Kim said the specific goals of emission cuts for “each industry and each company” would be decided next year.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Other, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Arizona's Growth Fueled Air Pollution

PHOENIX, Nov. 13 (UPI) — Arizona’s booming population growth polluted its air at a faster rate than any other state between 1990 and 2007, researchers said.

The amount of carbon dioxide pollution from automobile exhaust and electric power generation in Arizona grew 61 percent between 1990 and 2007, researchers for the advocacy group Environment Arizona said Thursday.

That increase was more than three times the national average, The Arizona Republic reported Friday.

Carbon dioxide, which contributes to respiratory illness, is the most common of greenhouse gases researchers say are increasing temperatures and changing Earth’s climate.

Air pollution levels could be reduced by increasing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and by more closely regulating coal-burning power plants, Environment Arizona spokesman Bret Fanshaw said.

“More pollution than ever before isn’t a record we want to set,” Fanshaw said. “It’s time to take back control of our energy future. We can drive the economy without driving up pollution.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Coal, Energy, Other, Pollution & Toxins, Population Growth, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Ohio Wants to Use Pesticide on Bedbugs

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 11 (UPI) — An Ohio official said his state has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for permission to use a pesticide to kill an invasion of bedbugs.

Matt Beal, assistant chief at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said the severity of the bedbug infestation led to state officials wanting to use the pesticide Propoxur in residences, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch said Wednesday.

“We are in dire straits, and we need help,” Beal said.

Ohio would need an emergency exemption from EPA officials for the residential use of the pesticide, primarily designed for use on crops and in commercial buildings. Beal said EPA officials will spend months reviewing the request to determine all potential risks in the pesticide’s use.

The Dispatch said the request from Ohio officials comes as state and county officials outlined the bedbug threat facing the state at the second Central Ohio Bed Bug Summit Tuesday.

“We are rapidly becoming overwhelmed,” said Paul Wenning, the Franklin County Board of Health’s special projects coordinator, said

“Bedbugs are crowding out other issues for us, and it’s only going to get worse,” he added.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Buildings, Other, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Chinese Man Rides Electric Bicycle Through Exhaust Smoke and Pollution Now Rated as "Hazardous" in Beijing

Chinse Man Cycle Through Pollution in Beijing.

A Chinese man rides his electric bicycle through exhaust smoke along a ring road in central Beijing on November 9, 2009. The veil of smog suspended over China’s capital is back just a year after the Beijing Olympics, and the nation’s air quality is now rated “hazardous” by the U.S. embassy.

UPI/Stephen Shaver

Date Taken: November 9, 2009

Posted in Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Utah Sees Nuclear Waste As Threat

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 8 (UPI) — U.S. nuclear regulators owe Utah a policy change and an apology for their handling of nuclear waste, scientists say.

Two geologists and a climatologist say the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is wrong in deeming depleted uranium safe for surface and shallow burial disposal, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Saturday.

Almost 50,000 tons of uranium are already stored in shallow landfills in Tooele County, east of Salt Lake City. The scientists say that site is underwater a few hundred of every thousand years. The waste remains hazardous for 1 million years, they warn, and wet cycles could spread the long-lived material across the entire Great Salt Lake basin.

A lack of deep, underground disposal sites is “clearly driving” the NRC’s decision to allow surface disposal, the scientists charge, and they accuse regulators of “a programmatic failure” to plan for proper disposal deep underground, the Tribune reported.

The NRC will will consider the scientists’ comments as part of an in-depth review, agency spokesman David McIntyre said. But, the agency won’t approve any more depleted uranium disposal in Utah “if we don’t think it’s safe,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Landfills, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

50,000 Tons of Dumped Coal Ash off Dominican Republic Coast is Focus of Suit

ARROYO BARRIL, Dominican Republic, Nov. 6 (UPI) — A civil lawsuit has been filed in Delaware charging toxic levels of coal ash dumped at a rural port in the Dominican Republic made area residents sick.

The suit cites repeated miscarriages and children born without limbs and organs as evidence of harm caused by the coal ash dumped by AES Corp. of Virginia, the Miami Herald reported.

Law firms Levy Phillips & Konigsberg of New York and Bifferato of Wilmington, Del., filed the suit Wednesday seeking unspecified compensation for seven clients and medical monitoring for the entire neighborhood.

“We tested 42 people, and more than half of those tested had abnormal, unsafe levels of arsenic in their blood,” Levy’s Robert Vance said.

Some 50,000 tons of coal ash, generated by an AES plant in Puerto Rico, were dumped near the village of Arroyo Barril six years go.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, People, Pollution & Toxins1 Comment

PTTEP Australasia Oil Well Leak Stopped in Timor Sea with Use of Heavy Mud

PERTH, Australia, Nov. 3 (UPI) — An Australian oil company said Tuesday it has succeeded in stopping a leak coming from its well in the Timor Sea.

PTTEP Australasia says the leak from its West Atlas rig, which has spewed thousands of gallons of oil into the sea since August, was successfully stopped with heavy mud on the fourth try, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

But, the company added, the well still had yet to be plugged and secured. The main fire that had been burning on the rig’s platform reportedly has been extinguished, but other fires are still ongoing, PTTEP Australasia said.

The long-running battle to plug the leak has prompted Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett to voice doubts about the safety and feasibility of a plan to pipe natural gas from the Timor Sea’s Browse Basin to Darwin, Australia.

“Well I think you’ve again got to look at the issue of a pipeline (500 miles) in length at deep water through geologically unstable part of the world and think is that the safest and best way to process that gas?” the Australian broadcaster quoted Barnett as saying.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Natural Gas, Other, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

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