Flint representative’s staff barred from attending EPA chemical summit

May 24, 2018 by  
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been trying to keep certain people out of a toxic chemical summit, according to reports. Some journalists were barred from entry on Tuesday, and representative Dan Kildee (D-Michigan), who represents Flint , said on Twitter  that his staff wasn’t allowed to attend the EPA’s summit on Wednesday. Kildee said EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s “lack of transparency and willingness to deny access to Members of Congress and the media is deeply troubling.” My staff was not allowed to attend today's @EPA #PFAS summit, and I represent communities affected by drinking water contamination. @EPAScottPruitt 's lack of transparency and willingness to deny access to Members of Congress and the media is deeply troubling. https://t.co/TK6ojDQ77o — Rep. Dan Kildee (@RepDanKildee) May 23, 2018 Several sites in Kildee’s district are contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Kildee’s district, according to Earther — and those substances were the focus of the National Leadership Summit on PFAS. So, it seems like it would have made sense for Kildee’s staff to attend an event on the chemicals. Pruitt said in an op-ed piece published by the Detroit Free Press that, at the summit, representatives “from more than 35 states — including Michigan — more than 20 federal partners, several tribes, dozens of industry, non-governmental groups and other national organizations will share valuable recommendations for how EPA should deal with PFAS in communities and communicate the risks associated with PFAS.” Related: The EPA wants to limit what science can be used to create regulations Tuesday’s attendee list included Kildee’s staff, and they were told Wednesday sessions were “limited to federal agency folks and states.” A spokesperson for Kildee said that was accurate but the “larger issue, in the Congressman’s opinion, is the EPA limiting or denying access to the taxpayer-funded PFAS summit, either to Members of Congress, the media, or the general public.” Pruitt said Michigan is to spend $1.7 million on testing water supplies — “including in 1,380 public water systems and 461 schools” — after finding PFAS in drinking water and lakes. Michigan stopped providing bottled water to Flint residents in April and said the water is safe. Many Flint residents don’t buy that; local LeeAnne Walters, a 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize winner , and other residents launched an ongoing Chuffed campaign to get water to the housebound, elderly, and disabled. + White House Via ThinkProgress and Earther Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Flint representative’s staff barred from attending EPA chemical summit

Energy company ditches plan to install a possible tar sands oil facility in New York

May 24, 2018 by  
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Environmentalists celebrated a victory in New York state after an energy company tossed out a 5-year-old plan to install a facility that could have handled Canadian tar sands oil. The plan had clear environmental risks and posed a threat to area residents. After resistance from environmental groups and the public,  Global Companies  decided to abandon the plan. Erin Doran, senior attorney at Riverkeeper , an environmental organization devoted to protecting the Hudson River , said in a statement , “The proposal threatened the health of neighboring communities and would have placed the Hudson River at a greater risk for a disastrous oil spill .” Massachusetts-based Global Companies had requested boilers capable of handling heavy crude at the Port of Albany back in 2013 — Times Union pointed out the company did not indicate the facility would be used for tar sands oil, although it could have — and a legal battle ensued. Company spokesperson Liz Fuller told the Times Union, “We are withdrawing that request and plan to resubmit a renewal application with modifications later this year. The changes to the permit will include a reduction in the amount of crude oil handled through the terminal and will not include a system for the heating of crude oil.” Related: Extreme fossil fuel financing has surged to $115BN under Trump Doran said this is the second major victory in 2018 for Hudson River protection, “…coming after the defeat of industry’s request for new anchorage grounds to facilitate the transport of more crude oil.” She said since 2014, together with other partners, Riverkeeper had been battling the plan in court. She called on New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to approach Global Companies’ next submission “as a new application and to ensure that the operations at this facility finally undergo a comprehensive environmental review.” According to the Times Union, Global Companies sued that department back in 2015 for failing to issue a permit for the boilers, and DEC won an appeals court ruling earlier this year upholding its decision that the energy company’s permit application lacked sufficient information. This week, DEC said it was pleased that Global Companies withdrew its plan. Earthjustice lawyer Chris Amato described this development as “a huge victory for the families that live, work, and go to school in Albany’s South End…Global’s proposal would have spewed more toxic pollution into the air, endangering the health of South End residents, including hundreds of children who live and attend [Giffen Elementary] school in the shadow of the Global facility. This has been, and continues to be, a fight for environmental justice .” + Riverkeeper Via the Times Union Images via Bill Morrow and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Energy company ditches plan to install a possible tar sands oil facility in New York

18 states representing 140 million people sue the Trump administration to defend clean car rules

May 2, 2018 by  
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California is leading a coalition of states representing around 43 percent of the car market in the United States to sue Donald Trump’s administration . The 18 states say the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in attempts to weaken Barack Obama-era car emissions rules. California governor Jerry Brown said in a news conference, “This is about health, it’s about life and death. I’m going to fight it with everything I can.” The states joining today’s lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars. This phalanx of states will defend the nation’s clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution. ? https://t.co/6t4sHygNT5 — Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) May 1, 2018 New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, and the District of Columbia join California in suing the EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt . The states seek to “set aside and hold unlawful” the EPA’s attempts to weaken fuel economy standards adopted in 2012 that take effect in 2022. They say the EPA violated the Clean Air Act and didn’t follow its own regulations. Related: EPA set to repeal Obama-era rules for cleaner cars “The federal standard the states are suing to protect is estimated to reduce carbon pollution equivalent to 134 coal power plants burning for a year, and save drivers $1,650 per vehicle,” the states said. The Trump administration said the standards were too stringent, according to The New York Times , and moved forward legally with the aim of reopening them. The EPA hasn’t offered proposed new standards but has drafted new regulations that would weaken the rules post-2020. The publication also said after executives from the Big Three — General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler — visited the White House to request emissions rules that were more lenient, Trump’s administration began to try and roll back the standards. Safe Climate Campaign director Dan Becker told The New York Times, “This is California saying: You really want war? We’ll give you war. It’s a signal to the administration that they’re not going to get away with anything in this space.” + Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Via The New York Times Images via Depositphotos and Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

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18 states representing 140 million people sue the Trump administration to defend clean car rules

The EPA wants to limit what science can be used to create regulations

April 25, 2018 by  
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Just weeks after this year’s March for Science ,  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is taking a shot at science — “secret science,” in his words . Pruitt recently proposed a rule that would limit the kinds of research the agency could draw on in crafting regulations. Reuters described the move as “an apparent concession to big business” which has angled for the restrictions for a long time. Pruitt’s proposal would mean the EPA wouldn’t be able to use scientific research based on confidential data. That means the agency would only be able to draw on studies that make all their data publicly available for everyone to scrutinize, according to NPR . The administrator said in a statement, “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end. The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of rulemaking process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.” The EPA’s statement said the proposal is consistent with scientific journals like Nature and Science ‘s data access requirements. Related: Leaked memo shows that EPA staffers were told to downplay the reliability of climate science But some scientists are worried — the move could place crucial data off limits. NPR quoted Sean Gallagher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science ‘s senior government relations officer, as saying, “Our concern with this is they are quite literally limiting the best available science that can be used by the EPA.” Epidemiological studies are often utilized in the agency’s regulatory decisions, and Gallagher said, “Those studies involve people like you and me, signing confidentiality agreements that the scientists doing the studies won’t reveal my personal health information, like my vital statistics, or my death certificate, if I die during the course of the study. This is the kind of science that the EPA relies on, whether it looks at chemicals or particulates and their mortality or health effects. It involves private data.” The proposal won’t enter into force yet; Reuters said there will be a 30-day comment period and the proposal would need to be finalized. + Environmental Protection Agency Via Reuters and NPR Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and NRDC pix on Flickr

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Shimmering Solar Arch to generate power for a post-industrial Connecticut town

April 25, 2018 by  
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A giant gleaming arch clad in solar panels is set to transform the waterfront of downtown Willimantic. This spectacular energy-generating artwork, called Rio Iluminado, was revealed today as the winner of Land Art Generator Institute’s most recent design competition. Designed by Pirie Associates Architects in collaboration with architect Lindsay Suter and sculptor Gar Waterman , the public artwork is capable of generating 25.5 MWh of clean energy a year for a 3.4-acre remediated brownfield. Developed as part of an initiative to reclaim and beautify the Willimantic waterfront , Rio Iluminado aims to reconnect the community with the river and generate renewable energy in a beautiful way. Located on the riverbank, the site-specific Solar Arch will be covered in a 900-square-foot solar array while the underside is finished with polished stainless steel panels. The artwork’s curvature was designed to follow the path of the sun and to reflect its surroundings. In addition to the Solar Arch, the Rio Iluminado will include a River Well in the Tree Copse that demonstrates the daily sun cycle with a solar-powered pump that only draws underground water during the day; an interactive Spiral Channel that moves the water from the River Well to the River Platform; and the 3,400-square-foot River Platform, decorated with murals and other art, that gradually fills with water while overflow is channeled into a two-stage bio-swale system. In the winter months, the River Platform will be transformed into an ice-skating surface. Related: Land Art Generator Initiative Santa Monica winners address California’s energy needs and drought Rio Iluminado was developed in close collaboration with the community, whose comments helped inform the final design. “Rio Iluminado cleverly addresses how to bring the river closer to the community—and vice-versa,” says WWP President James Turner. “We are thrilled to have a project design that will result in such an intricately conceived and strikingly executed work of art for the community to enjoy and be inspired by for years to come.” The project will now enter the next phase, where the winning team will focus on design development, cost estimates, and prototyping, followed by the final design fabrication and installation. + Land Art Generator Institute Images via Land Art Generator Institute

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Shimmering Solar Arch to generate power for a post-industrial Connecticut town

This whimsical tiny house with its own pizza oven was built for just $15,000

April 25, 2018 by  
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Although some may equate living in a tiny house with austere minimalism, with savvy planning there’s always room for a little whimsy. Take this 221-square-foot tiny home, which, in addition to its homey, light-filled interior, has a full-on pizza oven installed in the kitchen. Recently featured on Zillow , the tiny home was built for just $15,000 – and it’s full of personality. Owners Robert and Rebekah Sofia designed and built this whimsical tiny home in just 20 months. From the beginning, the empty nesters knew they wanted the space to reflect their vibrant lifestyle. Looking to stay within budget, they used as many reclaimed materials as possible. Related: Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels The 800-degree wood-fired pizza oven in the home speaks volumes about the couple’s appreciation for the finer things in life. Not many people would consider putting such a hot-burning amenity in a compact space, but the couple achieved temperature control by using multiple layers of plaster and cement, along with a very heavy metal door. In addition to having one of the more intersting features we’ve ever seen in a tiny house, the beautiful home also has an outdoor soaking tub, a formal dining room with a chandelier, and even a music loft. + Zillow Via Apartment Therapy Photography by John Jernigan via Zillow

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This whimsical tiny house with its own pizza oven was built for just $15,000

March for Science hits DC and over 200 other cities around the world tomorrow

April 13, 2018 by  
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Around 1.3 million people participated in March for Science rallies all over Earth last year, according to New Scientist . Concerned over the incoming United States administration’s climate change denial and anti-science overtures, marchers turned out in droves — and tomorrow many people will take to the streets again. Here’s what to expect, and how you can get involved. The 2018 March for Science takes place April 14 in Washington, D.C. , and in hundreds of other locations around the world. Their mission is “robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good, and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.” Not just scientists marched last year — one quarter of attendees said their job wasn’t in a scientific field, according to New Scientist. They just cared about science. Related: The funniest signs we spotted at the March for Science Since the 2017 March for Science, New York City march co-organizer David Kanter told New Scientist more scientists than ever ran for political office. Activism made a difference in science funding, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists Center for Science and Democracy deputy director Michael Halpern. New Scientist said Congress’ 2018 spending bill included more funding for research. Organizers estimate this year’s march won’t be as large as last year’s. Fear over what Donald Trump’s administration might or might not do motivated many people to show up in 2017. March for Science interim director Caroline Weinberg told The Washington Post , “People are definitely still motivated, but it’s coming across differently. Their behavior has been adjusting. What we’ve seen is a huge uptick in people taking action in other ways — signing petitions , making calls, sending letters.” But there are still reasons to march. Kanter told New Scientist, “The reason we’re still marching is that the goal of the march — use of evidence in policy-making — still isn’t being fulfilled in our politics today.” Halpern agrees. He told New Scientist, “They’re marching because they see EPA administrator Scott Pruitt go against his scientific advisers and fail to ban chemicals shown to cause damage to children’s brains. They’re seeing people at the Department of the Interior kicked out of their jobs [working] on climate change.” Find out how to get involved on the March for Science website . + March for Science Via New Scientist and The Washington Post Images via March for Science

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March for Science hits DC and over 200 other cities around the world tomorrow

Leaked memo shows that EPA staffers were told to downplay the reliability of climate science

March 30, 2018 by  
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees received talking points that appear to fit right in with Administrator Scott Pruitt’s skepticism of humanity’s role in climate change . Meant to develop “consistent messages about EPA’s climate adaptation efforts,” the talking points — obtained by HuffPost — emphasized the uncertainties in what we know about climate change and concluded with, “Administrator Pruitt encourages an open, transparent debate on climate science .” EPA employees got eight talking points from career staffer Joel Scheraga, who worked under President Barack Obama, on how to talk about climate adaptation. The first said the agency “recognizes the challenges that communities face in adapting to a changing climate.” The next three talked about promoting science and working with local and tribal governments on improving infrastructure. Related: Scott Pruitt thinks global warming could be favorable for humans The final four took a detour into the realm of uncertainties. Talking points five and six read, “Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue. While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.” EPA spokesperson Liz Bowman told HuffPost, “This is not an official memo; this is simply an email among colleagues, based on information developed by someone in our office…implying we are telling people to downplay climate change is a gross over misrepresentation of the facts.” The Washington Post said the email had been written based on scientifically unsound, controversial statements from Pruitt. HuffPost said Pruitt personally oversaw moves to remove climate change from agency websites, and has defended President Donald Trump’s decision to yank America out of the Paris Agreement . The Union of Concerned Scientists ‘ Center for Science and Democracy deputy director Michael Halpern told The Washington Post, “The EPA administrator should not be in the business of telling scientists what they should say publicly about basic scientific information. The implication is that EPA wants a political filter on all scientific information emerging from the government , especially if it has to do with climate change.” Via HuffPost and The Washington Post Images via The White House on Flickr and Depositphotos

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Leaked memo shows that EPA staffers were told to downplay the reliability of climate science

This tiny house on wheels can expand to meet the owner’s needs

March 30, 2018 by  
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Owning a house no longer means you have to stay in place. This tiny house on wheels, built to withstand extreme climates, can both change locations at a moment’s notice and expand in order to adjust to specific user needs. The Tiny House Company’s newest design, named Swallowtail, can be used as a primary home, weekender, studio, extended living space, or anything in between. Post-war homes inspired the tiny house’s design – it features a butterfly roof , timber screen, plywood cladding and corrugated sheeting. The butterfly roof has an integrated box gutter and downpipe for easy connection and rainwater collection , all hidden from view beside a paulownia timber screen. Related: This huge ‘tiny house’ on wheels can fit a family of five! The location of the doors and windows maximizes  cross-ventilation , and the walls and roof are well insulated. Durable and low-maintenance cladding and flashing ensure that the house retains a watertight seal at all times. The minimal floor plan keeps the interior looking uncluttered and clean, accommodating a range of optional extras and different furniture arrangements. Owners can add storage, shelving, optional window/door upgrades and additions, awnings, a planter box, higher-end fixtures, and additional cabinetry. Basic models of the home start at around $62,500. + The Tiny House Company Via Apartment Therapy

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This tiny house on wheels can expand to meet the owner’s needs

Scott Pruitt thinks global warming could be favorable for humans

February 9, 2018 by  
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has once again aired thoughts that depart from mainstream climate science , according to The Guardian . In a recent interview with Nevada TV station News 3 , Pruitt suggested global warming could be beneficial for people. He said, “Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, in the year 2018? It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what it should be in 2100.” Pruitt said in an interview with News 3’s Gerard Ramahlo, “No one disputes the climate changes , is changing, that’s, we see that, that’s constant. We obviously contribute to it; we live in the climate, right?…Now measuring that with precision, Gerard, I think is more challenging than is let on at times but I think the bigger question is…is it an existential threat? Is it something that is unsustainable or what kind of effect or harm is this going to have? I mean, we know that humans have most flourished during times of what, warming trends. I mean, so, so, I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming that that necessarily is a bad thing.” Related: Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO before denying pesticide ban The EPA administrator echoed an idea that’s been raised in the past of a debate on climate change, to go over “what we do know and what we don’t know, so the American people can be informed and make decisions on their own.” A snapshot of the EPA website on January 19, 2017, the day before Donald Trump was sworn into office, was very clear that the impacts of climate change would threaten human health . They said people could be exposed to disease , be threatened by extreme weather events, or face food insecurity due to climate change impacts. Via The Guardian and News 3 Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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