Home » Posts tagged 'epa'

Tag Archives: epa

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

U.S. Government Knew Climate Risks in 1970s, Energy Advisory Group Documents Show

U.S. Government Knew Climate Risks in 1970s, Energy Advisory Group Documents Show

The National Petroleum Council, once chaired by former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond, has long advised the federal government on energy issues

The National Petroleum Council, once chaired by former Exxon chief Lee Raymond, has long advised the U.S. government on energy issues. Documents show it downplayed fossil fuels’ role in climate change. Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  

A series of newly discovered documents clarify the extent to which the U.S. government, its advisory committees and the fossil fuel industry have understood for decades the impact carbon dioxide emissions would have on the planet.

The documents obtained by Climate Liability News show how much the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an oil and natural gas advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy, knew about climate change as far back as the 1970s. A series of reports illuminate the findings of government-contracted research that outlined the dangers associated with increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

They also shed light on how this advisory group to the federal government understood the fossil fuel industry’s contributions to climate change, and unveil the strategies it used to downplay the industry’s role. 

“These documents reaffirm that, to one extent or another, the fossil fuel industry as a whole has known for decades about the basics of climate change and its implications. But rather than warning the public and taking action, many of them turned around and orchestrated anti-science, anti-policy denial campaigns dwarfing even those of Big Tobacco,” said Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard who has extensively studied those denial campaigns.

Many of the documents were compiled by Hugh MacMillan, then a senior researcher on water, energy and climate issues for Food & Water Watch, an environmental nonprofit. He was preparing to file a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the Trump Administration’s plan to replace the Clean Power Plan.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Glyphosate is Good for You and You are a POS for not Agreeing

Glyphosate is Good for You and You are a POS for not Agreeing

While having an interesting discussion on the concerns of Monsanto’s widely used biocide glyphosate, better known as Round Up, I stumbled onto a corporate land mine. I received a torrent of vulgar insults, veiled threats and a blistering critique of my reputation as an environmental biology and marine science instructor of nearly 34 years. A simple conversation with a student I had in class nearly 20 years escalated into exposing the playbook of big tobacco and chemical company fierce defenders.

I replied to a post about roundup, Monsanto’s widely used herbicide. I questioned if this known biocide, Roundup, that is now being found in beer and wine is indeed safe?

Yes: I understand that the levels of Roundup in beer and wine, were found in incredibly low concentrations, in parts per billion, significantly lower than the 1-300 ppm allowed by the EPA in food crops. I was just following along in this discussion. And: I do have genuine concerns about the safely of Roundup. A study in Environmental Sciences Europe documents a staggering amount of this biocide, 1.8 million tons of glyphosate, has be used since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4½million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields. Now, homeowners can apply Glyphosate on their lawns, engineered to kill those weeks while our nation is literally awash in chemical poisons. Are we absolutely sure that Roundup does not cause cancer or disrupts crucial hormone messaging in our bodies? Having three grandchildren I worry. I worry a great deal. �Consider that Roundup use has exploded, with the onset of Roundup ready crops what are we putting into our soil and groundwater and foods?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EPA Plans to Allow Unlimited Dumping of Fracking Wastewater in the Gulf of Mexico


Originally published on www.truthout.org (republished with permission)

Environmentalists are warning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that its draft plan to continue allowing oil and gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico is in violation of federal law.

In a letter sent to EPA officials, attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity warned that the agency’s draft permit for water pollution discharges in the Gulf fails to properly consider how dumping wastewater containing chemicals from fracking and acidizing operations would impact water quality and marine wildlife.

The attorneys claim that regulators do not fully understand how the chemicals used in offshore fracking and other well treatments — some of which are toxic and dangerous to human and marine life — can impact marine environments, and crucial parts of the draft permit are based on severely outdated data. Finalizing the draft permit as it stands would be a violation of the Clean Water Act, they argue.

The EPA is endangering an entire ecosystem by allowing the oil industry to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and drilling waste fluid into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Center attorney Kristen Monsell. “This appalling plan from the agency that’s supposed to protect our water violates federal law, and shows a disturbing disregard for offshore fracking’s toxic threats to sea turtles and other Gulf wildlife.”

The Center has a history of using legal action to stop polluters and challenge the government to enforce environmental regulations, so the letter could be seen as a warning shot over the EPA’s bow.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is The U.S. Using Force To Sell Its LNG To The World?

Is The U.S. Using Force To Sell Its LNG To The World?

Middle East

The Trump Administration trade policy is nowhere so clear as in the energy area. For years it was thought that the younger Bush Administration was one of the most energy industry friendly in history. But the Trump Administration has gone far beyond that.

Hiring Ray Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, as U.S. Secretary of State, sent a strong signal to the entire industry, even though his tenure proved to be temporary.

Prior to that, the Administration withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, a long-held priority of Exxon and the entire oil industry. Following hard upon that, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reduced or eliminated regulations limiting carbon and other pollutants.

Exxon has for more than a decade underwritten the now discredited, right wing attack on climate change as a hoax. Although the energy industry has now publicly acknowledged climate change as a global threat, in practice the subject is still largely ignored.

Going further, the Trump Administration has removed and reduced regulations that hampered the industry expansion, including allowing drilling on both ocean coast, while easing safety regulations that were brought into effect after BP’s Gulf of Mexico disastrous spill, the worst in U.S. history.

Government protected nature preserves are being opened to exploration and drilling for the first time in generations. Added to that was the dropping of regulations that for many years prohibited export of U.S. crude. Since then, the U.S. has become a major player in the global energy industry.

The Administration currently plans to rescind and lower fuel efficiency standards for autos and trucks. That is likely to encourage increased purchase of larger SUVs, increased oil consumption, and rising gasoline prices.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Perils of Plastic Pollution

The Perils of Plastic Pollution

Plastics are found in the products we use every day: the toys we give our children, the clothing we wear, the disposable cups we drink from, the automobiles we make, the straws we use, the list goes on.  Cheap and easy to make, plastic goods and plastic production have exploded in recent years.  Yet the junked cars, the used straws and cups, they all end up somewhere, perhaps in a landfill, or perhaps drifting in the wind.  91% of plastic goods are not recycled.  Most have found their way to rivers, lakes, and oceans, and over time break down into tiny microscopic particles of plastic.  Microplastics are everywhere, even in the deepest sea floor sediments and in the Arctic.  They can originate in small form from toothpaste or makeup, or can be derived from larger pieces of plastic, which over time break down into small particles.

Not very long ago (Sept. 8, 2018), a giant 2,000 foot long tube was launched from San Francisco to be towed to a suitable site.  The brainchild of a young 24-year-old Dutchman named Boyan Slat, it is intended to trap some of the ever-increasing tons of plastic polluting our oceans.  To be sure California lends a more sympathetic ear to pollution problems than does Washington or the federal government these days.

Researchers have sought to determine the extent of plastic pollution and tested water samples from cities and towns on five continents.  The results: microscopic plastic particles were present in 83%.  Ironically samples that tested positive included the US Capitol building and the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, as well as the Trump Grill in New York.  Researchers say these plastic particles are also likely in foods prepared with water, such as pasta and bread.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Ethanol Is Terrible for Health and the Environment, but Government Keeps Backing It

Ethanol Is Terrible for Health and the Environment, but Government Keeps Backing It

The US federal government still strongly pushes corn- and soy-based ethanol despite the EPA’s new study showing its harmful effects.
When the elected officials and bureaucrats who run a government want to stack the deck in favor of a politically connected special interest, they have three main ways that they can go about it:
  1. They can subsidize the special interest, often using taxpayer cash.
  2. They can penalize the competition of the special interest, often through tariffs.
  3. They can mandate that people do business with the special interest.

Each of these actions is economically harmful as government-backed subsidies, penalties, and mandates all impose unnecessary costs on regular people. Worse, they often lead to predictable, if often unintended, consequences that do serious damage beyond what they do to personal finances.

In the case of ethanol in the United States, the federal government has employed all three measures over the years, frequently with bipartisan political support. Its subsidies keep afloat politically connected businesses that wouldn’t otherwise be able to keep themselves in business. Its tariffs have kept consumers from being able to buy cheaper sources of ethanol on the global market. And its mandate to put an increasing amount of corn-based ethanol into fuel makes food more expensive.

As an example of an unintended-yet-predictable consequence, it turns out that those actions by the U.S. government to push ethanol production and use in the United States are doing serious damage to the environment. The Daily Caller‘s Jason Hopkins reports on a new study from the Environmental Protection Agency:

In a study titled “Biofuels and the Environment: The Second Triennial Report to Congress,” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that ethanol derived from corn and soybeans is causing serious harm to the environment. Water, soil and air quality were all found to be adversely affected by biofuel mandates.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Methane Leaks from Oil and Gas 60% Higher Than EPA Estimates, New Study Finds

Methane Leaks from Oil and Gas 60% Higher Than EPA Estimates, New Study Finds

Each year, oil and gas industry operations in the U.S. are leaking roughly 60 percent more methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into our atmosphere than previous estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which relied heavily on self-reporting by the industry.

That’s the conclusion of a study published today in the peer-reviewed journal Science and conducted with funding from the Department of Energy, NASA, and private foundations. The two dozen researchers involved found that the U.S. oil and gas supply chain releases between 11 and 15 million metric tons of methane per year.

“This study confirms the growing body of peer-reviewed science indicating oil and gas extraction’s methane pollution makes it as harmful to climate as coal burning’s carbon dioxide pollution,” said Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell University professor emeritus of engineering and vice president of Earthwork’s board of directors.

“This confirms there is no ‘bridge fuel’,” Ingraffea said. “To stave off catastrophic climate change we need to immediately drop all fossil fuels in favor of conservation and renewables.”

A Leaky System

Methane is a powerful and fast-acting greenhouse gas. Each ton of methane causes over 80 times the amount of climate warming as an equal amount of carbon dioxide in the first two decades after it enters the atmosphere. It’s also the primary ingredient in the natural gas that’s used to heat homes and to generate electricity — and when it leaks from oil and gas wells, pipelines, and other equipment, it can cause the world’s climate to grow hotter faster.

Even when methane is burned, it still has a globe-warming effect because it releases carbon dioxide emissions of its own. A “new, efficient” natural gas power plant generates about 40 to 50 percent as much carbon dioxide as a “typical new coal plant” when that gas is burned, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists — but the methane leaks in the supply chain come on top of that carbon pollution.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EPA Staff Say the Trump Administration Is Changing Their Mission From Protecting Human Health and the Environment to Protecting Industry

EPA Staff Say the Trump Administration Is Changing Their Mission From Protecting Human Health and the Environment to Protecting Industry

Protesters at a rally against the current state of the EPA

We are social scientists with interests in environmental health, environmental justice and inequality and democracy. We recently published a study, conducted under the auspices of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative and based on interviews with 45 current and retired EPA employees, which concludes that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration have steered the agency to the verge of what scholars call “regulatory capture.”

By this we mean that they are aggressively reorganizing the EPA to promote interests of regulated industries, at the expense of its official mission to “protect human health and the environment.”


How Close Is Too Close?

The notion of “regulatory capture” has a long record in U.S. social science research. It helps explain the 2008 financial crisis and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In both cases, lax federal oversight and the government’s over-reliance on key industrieswere widely viewed as contributing to the disasters.

How can you tell whether an agency has been captured? According to Harvard’s David Moss and Daniel Carpenter, it occurs when an agency’s actions are “directed away from the public interest and toward the interest of the regulated industry” by “intent and action of industries and their allies.” In other words, the farmer doesn’t just tolerate foxes lurking around the hen house — he recruits them to guard it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EPA head Scott Pruitt says global warming may help ‘humans flourish’

EPA administrator says ‘There are assumptions made that because the climate is warming that necessarily is a bad thing’

‘It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what [the ideal surface temperature] should be in 2100,’ Pruitt has said.
Scott Pruitt: ‘It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what [the ideal surface temperature] should be in 2100.’ Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has suggested that global warming may be beneficial to humans, in his latest departure from mainstream climate science.

Pruitt, who has previously erred by denying that carbon dioxide is a key driver of climate change, has again caused consternation among scientists by suggesting that warming temperatures could benefit civilization.

The EPA administrator said that humans are contributing to climate “to a certain degree”, but added: “We know humans have most flourished during times of warming trends. There are assumptions made that because the climate is warming that necessarily is a bad thing.

“Do we know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100 or year 2018?” he told a TV station in Nevada. “It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what it should be in 2100.”

Pruitt said he wanted an “honest, transparent debate about what we do know and what we don’t know, so the American people can be informed and make decisions on their own”.

Under Pruitt’s leadership, the EPA is mulling whether to stage a televised “red team blue team” debate between climate scientists and those who deny the established science that human activity is warming the planet.

Donald Trump has also repeatedly questioned the science of climate change, tweeting during a cold snap in December that the US “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against”.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EPA Division That Studies the Health Risks of Toxic Chemicals is in a Fight For Its Life–Against the EPA

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

EPA DIVISION THAT STUDIES THE HEALTH RISKS OF TOXIC CHEMICALS IS IN A FIGHT FOR ITS LIFE — AGAINST THE EPA

A SMALL BUT vitally important program within the Environmental Protection Agency is in a fight for its life. The Integrated Risk Information System, or IRIS, is the only division of the EPA that independently assesses the toxicity of chemicals. IRIS supplies evaluations used by states, tribes, private developers, Superfund sites, and foreign countries, among others, and has long been a target of the companies whose profits can rise and fall based on its findings.

A meeting at the National Academy of Sciences on Thursday and Friday to review the program’s recent progress brought IRIS’s defenders together with its critics. Though the agenda focused on IRIS’s scientific process and whether the program has adequately incorporated guidance the academy gave it in 2014, questions about its survival permeated the meeting.

It’s not clear how IRIS might lose its ability to continue independently evaluating chemicals, but one possibility is that it would be folded into another division of the EPA, as the 2018 Senate Appropriations Bill proposes. According to that plan, staff would be moved from the current division of the agency, which is primarily concerned with science, to the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, which deals with regulation.

The transfer from a scientific to a regulatory part of the agency would hobble the program, according to many familiar with its work. “Moving it would bias the risk assessments,” said Tracey Woodruff, director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California, San Francisco. “You should try to keep the science separate, then use the independent science for regulation.”

An arguably bigger cause for concern is the current leader of that regulatory office: Nancy Beck, who worked at the American Chemistry Council before joining the EPA and seems to have maintained her allegiance to industry.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

EPA Orders Testing for GenX Contamination Near Chemours Plant in West Virginia

The Teflon Toxin

DuPont introduced GenX in 2009 to replace PFOA, also known as C8, a chemical it had used for decades to make Teflon and other…

THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY has asked Chemours to test water near its plant in West Virginia for the presence of the chemical GenX. In a January 11 letter to Andrew Hartten, Chemours’ principal project manager for corporate remediation, Kate McManus, acting director of the EPA’s water protection division, noted that GenX has already “been detected in three on-site production wells and one on-site drinking water well” at the company’s factory in West Virginia, which is known as Washington Works.

McManus also referred to GenX contamination near the Chemours factory in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where DuPont and its spinoff Chemours dumped approximately 200,000 pounds of GenX into the Cape Fear River since 1980, according to Detlef Knappe, a North Carolina State University professor who has studied the contamination. In that time, more than 200,000 people have been exposed to GenX in their drinking water.

“EPA is concerned that drinking water wells in the vicinity of the Washington Works facility may similarly be contaminated by GenX,” the letter explained.

DuPont introduced GenX in 2009 to replace PFOA, also known as C8, a chemical it had used for decades in North Carolina, West Virginia, and other locations to make Teflon and other products. Like GenX, PFOA escaped the West Virginia plant and seeped into local drinking water. The contamination — and the fact that DuPont executives knew about it and hid their knowledge — set off a mammoth class-action suit, which DuPont settled for $671 million.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pesticide Use Threatens Health in California

Pesticide Use Threatens Health in California

President Trump boasts about all the regulations that he has eliminated but he never mentions the important good that many of these rules were  doing, as Dennis J Bernstein explains.


The battle to protect farmworkers and their families from dangerous pesticides has been going on for decades. But it has always been an uphill struggle because of the power and the money behind the mammoth petrochemical industry. In 2017, farmworkers, their families continued to be exposed to toxic sprays that drift into school zones and other populated areas.

Migrant workers harvest lettuce at Lakeside Organic Gardens in Watsonville, CA on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013. (USDA photo by Bob Nichols)

While there have been some improvements and restrictions at the California state level, experts and activists in the field say not nearly enough is being done. And compounding the problem, EPA Director Scott Pruitt took swift action against new regulations that were about to be put into place under President Obama

Dr. Ann Lopez, Director of the Center for Farmworker Families, based in Felton, California,has taught courses in biology, environmental science, ecology and botany in the biology department at San José City College for many years. She is an independent researcher whose research addresses the human side of the binational migration circuit from the subsistence and small producer farms of west central Mexico to employment in California’s corporate agribusiness.

Dr. Lopez has worked with over 33 farmworker families in the Salinas and Pajaro valleys. She has also studied 22 of their family farms in the west central Mexico countryside, and has received recognition and awards for her work.

Dr. Lopez,author of The Farmworkers Journey, was awarded the Human Agenda Ecological Sustainability Award in 2014 and the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc. awarded her with the Community Game Changer Award in 2015.

I spoke to Dr. Lopez on Dec. 27, 2017 at her office in Felton, California.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Did The EPA Just Go Rogue Again

Did The EPA Just Go Rogue Again

In late January, days after Donald Trump became president, various government workers employed by the EPA “defied” the president with what at the time appeared to be rogue twitter accounts emerging from the environemntal agency, most notably the Badlands National Park which slammed Trump’s climate change proposal.
  • “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate”
  • “Flipside of the atmosphere; ocean acidity has increased 30% since the Industrial  Revolution. ‘Ocean Acidification” #climate #carboncycle’”
  • “Burning one gallon of gasoline puts nearly 20lbs of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. #climate”

It now appears that a new “rogue” employee may have emerged at the EPA’s pres office.

This morning, in a press release summarizing “What They Are Saying About President Trump’s Executive Order On Energy Independence”, as the first quote picked by an unknown staffer at the agency, the EPA decided to showcase the thoughts of Dem. Senator Shelly Moore Capito whose quote was not exactly on message, as Bloomberg’s Patrick Ambrosio pointed out.

This is what she said:

With this Executive Order, President Trump has chosen to recklessly bury his head in the sand. Walking away from the Clean Power Plan and other climate initiatives, including critical resiliency projects is not just irresponsible — it’s irrational. Today’s executive order calls into question America’s credibility and our commitment to tackling the greatest environmental challenge of our lifetime. With the world watching, President Trump and Administrator Pruitt have chosen to shirk our responsibility, disregard clear science and undo the significant progress our country has made to ensure we leave a better, more sustainable planet for generations to come.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Hell to pay” if Trump targets EPA climate science, says U.S. Chamber official

“Hell to pay” if Trump targets EPA climate science, says U.S. Chamber official

A senior official with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned that if Trump tries to rescind the EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gasses, it will be a “huge, huge buzzsaw”.

A senior energy official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently warned that there will be “hell to pay” if the Trump administration tries to rescind the EPA’s science-based endangerment finding for greenhouse gas emissions.

In typical U.S. Chamber fashion, Christopher Guith dismissed current concerns about climate change as based on “religion” – not “scientific facts” – while speaking at a January 26th event in the coal state of Kentucky. Guith is the senior vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

But Guith conceded that carbon dioxide emissions are likely to ultimately be regulated under the Clean Air Act. He also said that “soccer moms and soccer dads” will make the Trump administration pay if it goes after the EPA’s endangerment finding.

As predicted, Americans are taking to the streets in large numbers to defend science against attacks by the Trump administration, as seen on this photo that was posted on social.

Guith’s comments belie the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s official policy priorities for 2017, which include plans to, “Oppose EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gases under the existing Clean Air Act, including the endangerment finding.”

His remarks came last last month during a question and answer session on the future of energy policy under the Trump administration at an event hosted by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Guith’s comments were captured by a representative of the Energy and Policy Institute who attended the event.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

With New EPA Advisory, Dozens of Communities Suddenly Have Dangerous Drinking Water

THE EPA ANNOUNCED new drinking water health advisory levels today for the industrial chemicals PFOA and PFOS. The new levels — .07 parts per billion (ppb) for both chemicals — are significantly lower than standards the agency issued in 2009, which were .4 ppb for PFOA and .2 ppb for PFOS. In areas where both PFOA and PFOS are present, the advisory suggests a maximum combined level of .07 ppb. While the old levels were calculated based on the assumption that people were drinking the contaminants only for weeks or months, the new standards assume lifetime exposure and reflect more recent research.

The new federal standards may unify what has been an inconsistent official response to the presence of these perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, in drinking water. They will also instantaneously create official water contamination crises in dozens of cities and towns across the country.

According to the EPA’s most recent data on unregulated drinking water contaminants, released in January, 14 drinking water systems around the country reported levels of PFOA that exceed the new federal threshold, while 40 reported PFOS above the new cutoff. In all, water systems in 18 states, as well as in Guam, are contaminated.

Some of these water systems have already begun to quietly address the problem. In Suffolk County, New York, where public drinking water wells show PFOS levels of .33 and .53 ppb, the contaminated water “has either been blended with other wells to reduce the level of the compound to non-detection or their use has been limited to the greatest extent possible,” according to Kevin Durk, director of water quality and laboratory services for the Suffolk County Water Authority. Though he does not know the level of PFOS in the water that comes out of local taps, Durk wrote in an email that “it is a virtual certainty that levels of any detected chemical would have been reduced.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase