Monday, December 28th, 2009
The US EPA is the source of most air quality impact assessment models used in the US for regulatory purposes, such as predicting the potential impacts from proposed stationary sources of air pollutants and mobile sources such as motor vehicles. Since motor vehicle emissions vary with regulatory changes in required emission level, it is important that impact modeling be performed with the most up-to-date models.
EPA recently announced that an updated version of the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) model — MOVES2010 — is now available for use to estimate air pollution from cars, trucks, and other on-road mobile sources. The model can also calculate the emissions reduction benefits from a range of mobile source control strategies, such as inspection and maintenance programs and local fuel standards.
Saturday, December 26th, 2009
When the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog embraces nuclear power, genetically engineered crops, and geoengineering schemes to cool the planet, you know things have changed in the environmental movement. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Stewart Brand explains how the passage of four decades — and the advent of global warming — have shifted his thinking about what it means to be green.
Stewart Brand helped shape the environmental consciousness of the 1960s and ‘70s with his Whole Earth Catalog, which became a bible of the counterculture and the back-to-the-land movement. An eclectic compendium of information and “tools” for innovative, environmentally friendly living, the Whole Earth Catalog reflected Brand’s ecological and technological interests, foreshadowing the rise of the San Francisco Bay Area’s computer and green cultures.
Friday, December 25th, 2009
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an agreement with U.S. dairy producers to accelerate adoption of innovative manure to energy projects on American dairy farms. The agreement represents a dynamic public/private partnership and is another demonstration of the Obama Administration’s commitment to curb the emissions of greenhouse gases.
“This historic agreement, the first of its kind, will help us achieve the ambitious goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting dairy farmers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The “Use of manure to electricity technology is a win for everyone because it provides an untapped source of income for famers, provides a source of renewable electricity, reduces our dependence on foreign fossil fuels, and provides a wealth of additional environmental benefits.”
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
The US EPA and Duke Energy have reached a settlement in another New Source Review enforcement action.
Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power companies in the nation, will spend approximately $85 million to significantly reduce harmful air pollution at an Indiana power plant and pay a $1.75 million civil penalty, under a settlement to resolve violations of federal clean air laws, the Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. The settlement also requires Duke to spend $6.25 million on environmental mitigation projects.
The agreement, filed in federal court in Indianapolis, resolves violations of the Clean Air Act’s new source review requirements found at the company’s Gallagher coal-fired power plant in New Albany, Ind., located directly across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky. (more…)
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
The US EPA has finalized a rule setting tough engine and fuel standards for large US flagged ships, a major milestone in the agency’s coordinated strategy to slash harmful marine diesel emissions.
The regulation harmonizes with international standards and will lead to significant air quality improvements throughout the country. “There are enormous health and environmental consequences that come from marine diesel emissions, affecting both port cities and communities hundreds of miles inland. Stronger standards will help make large ships cleaner and more efficient, and protect millions of Americans from harmful diesel emissions,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Port communities have identified diesel emissions as one of the greatest health threats facing their people — especially their children. These new rules mark a step forward in cutting dangerous pollution in the air we breathe and reducing the harm to our health, our environment, and our economy.” (more…)
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
The bitter battle over health care legislation, fears that global warming legislation could harm the weak U.S. economy, and the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit to set binding CO2 emissions reductions targets will make U.S. Senate passage of a carbon cap-and-trade bill difficult in 2010, according to senators from both parties.
Politico reports that the partisan struggle over health care reform — in which 60 Democratic senators are poised to pass a bill with no Republican support — has alienated moderate Republicans whose votes are crucial to passage of climate legislation.
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Reverberations from the disappointing Copenhagen climate summit continued to be felt worldwide, with political leaders blaming each other for the meeting’s outcome, U.S. senators saying that the lack of progress will make it harder for Congress to pass a climate bill, European Union carbon prices falling, and some businesses lamenting the continuing lack of uncertainty about future CO2 cuts and carbon prices.
Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown told an environmental meeting on Monday that a handful of countries blocked a legally binding deal on climate change, adding,
“We will not allow a few countries to hold us back. What happened at Copenhagen was a flawed decision-making process. We’ve just got to find a way of moving this process forward.”
Although Brown did not mention any countries by name, Ed Miliband, Climate Change and Energy Secretary, specifically mentioned China, noting that it had vetoed proposals calling for a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and an 80 percent cut in emissions by developed nations by mid-century. Miliband said China exercised its veto despite support for the proposal by a broad coalition of industrialized nations and the vast majority of developing nations.
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Authors Andres Duany and Jeff Speck, renowned city planners who brought the issue of suburban sprawl to the forefront of the national debate, have come together again with The Smart Growth Manual, which details the path to creating better, greener and environmentally-friendly communities.
CleanTechies caught up with Speck for three questions on better living through planning.
CleanTechies: When you hear the term smart growth, what does it mean to you?
Jeff Speck: It’s the opposite of sprawl. And sprawl is identified as growth that spreads out at low density, separates uses and relies on automotive transportation and has a concomitant disinvestment in city centers. So smart growth is the attempt to reverse those trends, or to continue the momentum that’s already been begun toward reversing those trends.
I have a specific message for CleanTechies: Sustainability is about systems. Unless we approach our footprint systematically, we’re just kind of nibbling around the edges. And I think almost all of the gizmo green solutions to climate change and post-peak oil challenges are nibbling around the edges without getting to the meat of the problem.
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
As the world weighs how to deal with warming, the idea of human manipulation of climate systems is gaining attention. Yet beyond the environmental and technical questions looms a more practical issue: How could governments really commit to supervising geoengineering schemes for centuries?
In the summer of 2006, geoengineering — the radical proposal to offset one human intervention into planetary systems with another — came roaring out of the scientific closet. Deliberate climate modification, as climate scientist Wally Broecker once noted, had long been “one of the few subjects considered taboo in the realm of scientific inquiry.”
Friday, December 18th, 2009
Saying that “the time for talk is over,” President Obama called on the 193 nations at the Copenhagen climate summit to put aside divisions and agree on a treaty to tackle the threat of global warming. “We are running short of time, and at this point the question is whether we will move forward together or split apart. Whether we prefer posturing to action. We can choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year — all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible… We are ready to get this done today, but there has to be movement on all sides.”
Clearly frustrated by the lack of action as the 12-day conference drew to a close, Obama said a successful accord must contain three elements: a commitment from all major economies to make significant emissions reductions, the creation of a mechanism to verify that nations adhere to those commitments, and the establishment of a fund to help countries most vulnerable to climate change. Read the text of Obama’s speech and watch the video.