Wednesday, November 11th, 2009
Five years ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assured the nation that the technology credited with opening vast new natural gas supplies was safe. Now Congress has ordered the agency to take another look.
As part of the $32 billion Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill recently signed by President Obama, lawmakers asked the EPA to re-visit hydraulic fracturing, the process where copious amounts of water and sand mixed with toxic chemical additives are furiously pumped underground to break up gas-bearing rock thousands of feet below.
Friday, October 23rd, 2009
New York’s recently released review of the environmental risks (PDF) posed by natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale offers the clearest picture yet of the chemicals used in the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing.
The document makes public the names of 260 chemicals, more than eight times as many as Pennsylvania state regulators have compiled. The list is the most complete released by any state or federal agency and could help answer concerns about hydraulic fracturing in Congress and in states where gas drilling has increased in recent years.
Monday, October 19th, 2009
A major new regulatory requirement, starting January 1, 2010, will affect most large industrial and utility combustion sources in the US.
Fossil fuel and industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) suppliers, motor vehicle and engine manufacturers, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent per year will be required to report GHG emissions data to EPA annually. This threshold is equivalent to about the annual GHG emissions from 4,600 passenger vehicles.
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have recommended dramatically scaling back oil drilling plans off U.S. coasts and have proposed a ban on oil and gas exploration in the Arctic until oil companies significantly improve their ability to prevent and clean up oil spills.
The non-binding recommendations to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar represent a stark reversal from the pro-drilling policies of the Bush administration; the new administrator of NOAA, Jane Lubchenco, is an oceanographer who has vowed to restore science to federal environmental policy.
Thursday, August 27th, 2009
For the first time, scientists have discovered chemicals used in a controversial natural gas drilling technique in water wells near the gas sites.
Scientists for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testing wells near a major gas drilling area in Wyoming, have found traces of drilling chemicals in three wells, and other contaminants — including oil, gas, and heavy metals — in 11 of 39 wells recently tested, according to the Web site Pro Publica.
The chemicals are used in a process called hydraulic fracturing, in which drilling fluids and sand are injected under high pressure to break up rock and release gas.
Monday, August 17th, 2009
Severe air pollution in China’s heavily industrialized east is impeding the formation of rain clouds and contributing to a drought in northern China, according to a new study. The study, which looked at rainfall and pollution patterns for the past 50 years, concluded that pollution has reduced the number of days of light rain in eastern China by 23 percent.
Atmospheric scientist Yun Qian of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said that the large number of aerosols in China’s polluted skies has led to the formation of rain droplets that are up to 50 percent smaller than rain droplets in clean skies. The smaller droplets do not as readily form rain clouds, which means that lighter rainfalls valuable to agriculture — ranging from a drizzle to accumulations of .4 inch per day — are occurring less frequently, according to the study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.
Saturday, July 11th, 2009
A Russian company has announced that it will build the world’s first floating nuclear plant, opening up the possibility that the Russians could use such reactors to power operations to extract oil and minerals in remote regions of the Arctic.
Russia’s United Industrial Corporation said its floating reactor will go into operation in 2012 off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East and will be used to help power Vilyuchinsk, a small city that serves as an atomic submarine base. The 472-foot plant will be built in the shape of a ship, will accommodate two 35-megawatt reactors, and will cost $316 million to construct, United Industrial said.
Friday, July 10th, 2009
Large, low-emission buses being introduced in developing cities from Mexico City to Ahmedabad, India are reducing congestion on crowded roadways and cutting pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, all at a much lower cost than constructing subways.
In Bogota, Colombia, city leaders took control of two to four center lanes of major boulevards for the TransMilenio rapid transit system. Small walls isolate the “tracks” of the bus lines from other traffic, and passengers are able to board the long, segmented buses from the center platforms of modern stations.
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
Reporting in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, more than 60 scientists found the following: Chemicals added to plastics are increasingly absorbed by humans, altering hormones and affecting fetal development and other physiological processes; millions of tons of plastic debris are ingested by hundreds of animal and fish species, clogging their digestive systems and infusing their systems with chemicals; floating plastic debris can last thousands of years in oceans and transport invasive species; plastic in landfills leaches harmful chemicals into groundwater; and 8 percent of world oil production goes into manufacturing plastics.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
The US Environmental Protection Agency today announced the next steps in a coordinated strategy to reduce emissions from ocean-going vessels. EPA is proposing a rule under the Clean Air Act that sets engine and fuel standards for U.S. flagged ships that would harmonize with international standards and are expected to lead to significant air quality improvements throughout the country, especially near ports.
“These emissions are contributing to health, environmental and economic challenges for port communities and others that are miles inland. Building on our work to form an international agreement earlier this year, we’re taking the next steps to reduce significant amounts of harmful pollution from getting into the air we breathe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. (more…)