Track The Life Cycle Of A T-Shirt (Specifically, A Sweet Willie Nelson Concert T-Shirt)

Read the full story from Fast Company.

Orpha Gene Watson’s family has farmed land in eastern North Carolina since 1754. His grandfather, Stanley, on his mother’s side farmed cotton, his father farmed cotton, and now he, his son, and his two nephews farm cotton. Back when boll weevils were terrorizing cotton fruit in the early 20th century, Watson says his family’s farm was the only one in North Carolina that had cotton. But when Watson’s nephew came home from North Carolina State University one summer and started talking about organic farming, Watson was skeptical. He gave it a shot with seven acres of tobacco.

Seven years later, and Watson now has 1,500 acres, 320 of which are dedicated to organic sweet potatoes, tobacco, soybeans, wheat–and yes, cotton. Watson’s organic cotton is also starring in an experiment used to create a concert t-shirt for family farm non-profit Farm Aid benefit headlined by founder Willie Nelson. Instead of outsourcing the farming and garment work, Farm Aid kept the full production of the t-shirts confined to 750 square miles in North Carolina. You can now track each stage of the farm-to-shirt process on the annual fundraiser’s website.

National Park Service 2014 Environmental Achievement Awards

Read the full post at GreenLine.

NPS recently announced the 2014 recipients of its annual Environmental Achievement Awards, honoring NPS teams and partners that demonstrate exceptional environmental accomplishments in line with Executive Order (EO) 13423, Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management, and EO 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. This year, two concessioners were recognized for their achievements supporting the NPS goal of the preservation, protection and stewardship of environmental resources.

EPA Regulations and Electricity: Update on Agencies’ Monitoring Efforts and Coal-Fueled Generating Unit Retirements

Download the document.

What GAO Found

The Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have taken initial steps to implement a recommendation GAO made in 2012 that these agencies develop and document a joint process to monitor industry’s progress in responding to four proposed or finalized EPA regulations affecting coal-fueled generating units. GAO concluded that such a process was needed until at least 2017 to monitor the complexity of implementation and extent of potential effects on price and reliability. Since that time, DOE, EPA, and FERC have taken initial steps to monitor industry progress responding to EPA regulations including jointly conducting regular meetings with key industry stakeholders. Currently, these monitoring efforts are primarily focused on industry’s implementation of one of four EPA regulations—the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards—and the regions with a large amount of capacity that must comply with that regulation. Agency officials told GAO that in light of EPA’s recent and pending actions on regulations including those to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing generating units, these coordination efforts may need to be revisited.

According to GAO’s analysis of public data, power companies now plan to retire a greater percentage of coal-fueled generating capacity and retrofit less capacity with environmental controls than the estimates GAO reported in July 2012. About 13 percent of coal-fueled generating capacity—42,192 megawatts (MW)—has either been retired since 2012 or is planned for retirement by 2025, which exceeds the estimates of 2 to 12 percent of capacity that GAO reported in 2012 (see fig.). The units that power companies have retired or plan to retire are generally older, smaller, more polluting and not used extensively, with some exceptions. For example, some larger generating units are also planned for retirement. In addition, the capacity is geographically concentrated in four states: Ohio (14 percent), Pennsylvania (11 percent), Kentucky (7 percent), and West Virginia (6 percent). GAO’s analysis identified about 70,000 MW of generating capacity that has either completed some type of retrofit to reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, or particulate matter since 2012 or plan to complete one by 2025, which is less than the estimate of 102,000 MW GAO reported in 2012.

Why GAO Did This Study

EPA recently proposed or finalized four regulations affecting coal-fueled electricity generating units, which provide about 37 percent of the nation’s electricity supply. These regulations are the: (1) Cross-State Air Pollution Rule; (2) Mercury and Air Toxics Standards; (3) Cooling Water Intake Structures regulation; and (4) Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals regulation. In 2012, GAO reported that, in response to these regulations and other factors such as low natural gas prices, companies might retire or retrofit some units. GAO reported that these actions may increase electricity prices and, according to some stakeholders, may affect reliability–the ability to meet consumers’ demand—in some regions. In 2012, GAO recommended that DOE, EPA, and FERC develop and document a formal, joint process to monitor industry’s progress responding to these regulations. In June 2014, EPA proposed new regulations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that will also affect these units.

GAO was asked to update its 2012 report. This report examines (1) agencies’ efforts to respond to GAO’s recommendation and (2) what is known about planned retirements and retrofits. GAO reviewed documents, analyzed data, and interviewed agency officials and stakeholders.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is not making new recommendations but believes it is important that these agencies jointly monitor industry progress and fully document these steps as GAO recommended in 2012. The agencies concurred with GAO’s findings.

How 3 biodiesel companies defy the odds in a challenging industry

In this P2 Impact article on GreenBiz, Donna Walden from WSPPN and Kelsey McCutcheon a graduate student at UNR write about three biofuel companies on the west coast and how biodiesel is good for the environment and the economy.

Previous P2 Impact articles are archived on the GreenBiz web site.

Registration Opens for Third Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge

Registration opened on September 2, 2014 for EPA’s third annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a green infrastructure design challenge for college and university students. Student teams and faculty advisors are invited to submit design boards, a project narrative, and a letter of support describing a proposed green infrastructure project for a location on their campus. Registration ends October 3, 2014, and registrants must submit their entries by December 19, 2014.

6 Ways The World Can Cope With Water Shortages

Read the full story from Fast Company.

As if California’s current drought wasn’t bad enough, it could be just a foretaste of what’s to come. Many of the U.S.’s major watersheds are “stressed” , and, across the world, several important regions are set to run low on water.

With growing populations and deepening climate change, we’re going to need to find new ways to conserve and make better use of supplies. The days of using water casually, as if there’s always more to come, will be over for a good proportion of the planet, including much of the southwest and western United States.

How can we overcome our shortages? A new paper from researchers at McGill and Utrecht Universities identifies six strategies–or “wedges”–that could make a significant difference. Each could provide a reduction in water-stressed population of at least 2% by 2050.