Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will require new studies on the health and environmental effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a potentially harmful chemical found in thousands of everyday plastics.
The federal agency, which is looking to add the chemical to its list of “chemicals of concern,” will begin measuring levels of the chemical in drinking water and ground water supplies. More than one million pounds of BPA are released into the environment annually, EPA officials say.
While studies have shown that the chemical disrupts development in animals, that link has not been confirmed for humans. (more…)
Monday, March 1st, 2010
When New York State’s environmental agency came out with a draft environmental review of drilling in the Marcellus Shale in September, it set off a flurry of action for environmentalists, industry advocates and the general public.
People were given 30 days — later extended to 90 — to digest the highly technical 800-plus-page document and submit comments. They could also voice their opinions at four public hearings.
At stake was the future of gas drilling in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale, which could produce vast amounts of natural gas, but which some residents fear also could contaminate drinking water sources and the air.
Since the comment period ended on Dec. 31, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has been assembling and evaluating the public’s response, which included a stinging analysis of the plan by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. DEC officials aren’t saying when the final version of the review will be unveiled, but two department representatives, Yancey Roy and Maureen Wren, did agree to walk us through the process. (more…)
Saturday, February 20th, 2010
Two of the largest companies involved in natural gas drilling have acknowledged pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based fluids into the ground in the process of hydraulic fracturing, raising further concerns that existing state and federal regulations don’t adequately protect drinking water from drilling.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., who released the information in a statement Thursday, announced that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which he chairs, is launching an investigation into potential environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing.
The process, which forces highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals into rock to release the gas and oil locked inside, gives drillers unprecedented access to deeply buried gas deposits and vastly increases the country’s known energy reserves. But as ProPublica has detailed in more than 60 articles, the process comes with risks. The fluids used in hydraulic fracturing are laced with chemicals — some of which are known carcinogens. And because the process is exempt from most federal oversight, it is overseen by state agencies that are spread thin and have widely varying regulations. (more…)
Sunday, December 27th, 2009
The Internet is becoming a great tool for getting information on facilities that are emitting air pollution, discharging water pollution, and generating hazardous wastes. In the past, this information was difficult for the public to access, and in some cases either was not made available to the public, or required a Freedom of Information Act filing to obtain. This is changing as more states and the federal government is making this information available on line.
The latest effort comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has released enforcement results for fiscal year 2009, and has developed a new Web-based tool and interactive map that allows the public to get detailed information by location about the enforcement actions taken at approximately 4,600 facilities.
Thursday, December 17th, 2009
The New York Times’ latest story in its series on water contamination might make you think twice before filling up your glass from the tap. Although the law probably deems your water safe, it could still be — legally — teeming with chemicals that cause health problems “from upset stomachs to cancer and birth defects.”
The Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates tap water, is dangerously out of date, according to the Times. The list of chemicals it regulates stalled at 91 in 2000 — even though water pollution has picked up since then and hundreds of chemicals have been associated with a risk of cancer when found in drinking water. Efforts to tighten water standards have been thwarted by industry lobbyists, according to the Times.
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, March 2nd, 2009
U. of Wisc. photo
Depending on where you live, the Great Lakes may seem far from local.
But they hold 84 percent of the freshwater in North America. So if you ever get thirsty, you might want to pay attention.
President Barack Obama has proposed $475 million in funding for a Great Lakes restoration in his Fiscal Year 2010 budget. It would be a downpayment on a $5 billion campaign promise.