Costs of Urban Light Pollution Highlighted in Citizen Science Effort

Via Yale Environment360.

A recently launched citizen science project aims to highlight the environmental, social, and financial impacts of excessive nighttime lighting in cities around the world. The project, called Cities at Night, enlists people to help identify the cities pictured in thousands of blindingly lit photos taken by astronauts orbiting the earth. Organizers hope that when residents and officials see the bright photos of their cities at night, they will be prompted to cut nighttime light use and energy consumption. Widespread artificial lighting has made light pollution a growing problem in urban areas by disrupting behavioral patterns of people and wildlife, wasting millions of dollars in energy costs, and adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Some solutions are relatively inexpensive and straightforward, the organizers say, such as using shields to direct light down to street-level, which can allow a city to use lower-wattage streetlights.

Should Nestle Be Bottling California Water In The Middle Of The State’s Record-Breaking Drought?

Read the full story at Fast Company.

California is in a deep drought. 2013 was the driest year on record in the state. The State Water Resources Control Board went so far this month as to impose harsh restrictions on outdoor water use. (Using potable water in an ornamental fountain? That’ll be a $500 fine.) And somehow, in the middle of all this, Nestle is bottling California’s scarce water and selling it.

Fracking for Oil Leads to a Lot of Natural Gas Waste

Read the full story in Governing.

The rapid escalation of energy production in shale formations across the U.S. has produced a bonanza of oil, but it has left many states scrambling to handle the natural gas that often flows in large volumes along with the crude. Gas pipeline construction often lags behind the development of new wells, and the result is that billions of dollars’ worth of gas that might be warming homes or fueling power plants is going up in smoke.

EPA Proposes Updates to Reduce Methane, Other Harmful Pollution from New Landfills

As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan – Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing updates to its air standards for new municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. These updates would require certain landfills to capture additional landfill gas, which would reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and help further reduce pollution that harms public health. The agency also is seeking broad public feedback on how and whether to update guidelines for existing landfills.

Non-hazardous waste from homes, business and institutions ends up in municipal solid waste landfills, where it decomposes and breaks down to form landfill gas, which includes carbon dioxide, a number of air toxics and methane. Methane has a global warming potential 25 times that of carbon dioxide.

“Reducing methane emissions is a powerful way to take action on climate change,” said Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This latest step from the President’s methane strategy builds on our progress to date and takes steps to cut emissions from landfills through common-sense standards.”

Today’s proposal would require new MSW landfills subject to the rule to begin controlling landfill gas at a lower emissions threshold than currently required. Under the proposal, landfills would capture two-thirds of their methane and air toxics emissions by 2023 – 13 percent more than required under current rules. EPA estimates the net nationwide annual costs of complying with the additional requirements in the proposed rule would be $471,000 in 2023.

Today, methane accounts for nearly 9 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane in the country, accounting for 18 percent of methane emissions in 2012. Regulatory and voluntary programs, including the agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program, have helped reduce emissions from landfills by 30 percent from 1990 to 2012. However, without additional actions, methane emissions are projected to increase through 2030.

Also today, EPA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) seeking broad public input on whether and how to update current emissions guidelines for existing landfills to further reduce their emissions, including methane. The agency is considering updating those guidelines based on a several factors, including significant changes that have occurred in the landfill industry since the original guidelines were issued in 1996. Nearly 1,000 MSW landfills in the U.S. currently are subject to either the 1996 emission guidelines for existing landfills or the 1996 NSPS for new landfills.

EPA will take public comment on the proposed performance standards updates and the ANPR for 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register. If a hearing is requested, it will be held on August 12, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Turning Food Waste into Fuel

Read the full story from the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

The world we live in today is exponentially changing with advances in modern technology and science. It seems as if every day we are embracing new ideas and discarding what is no longer useful to us. I’m reminded of a quote from the late William James, the man who many regard as the father of American psychology, which fits this very same idea.

We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood.”

Acknowledging this way of looking at the world is the single most dominant force behind what we call innovation. Here at the Iowa Waste Reduction Center we are constantly looking for ways we can help businesses ascend the plateaus that stand between being good, and being great. We also understand the importance of achieving this quality without jeopardizing the environment. One of the focal points we touch on in that respect is food waste. We know this is an issue that needs attention, but what rarely gets the attention is what businesses can do with their excess food waste. There’s one avenue that is very, very promising called biodigestion – turning food waste into fuel.

Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 sets 85% carbon emissions reduction goal by 2050, strongest in the United States

Read the full post in the Climate Law Blog.

On June 19, 2014 both houses of the Rhode Island legislature passed the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014, which addresses climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience, and establishes greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets of 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, 45% by 2035, and 85% by 2050. The bill also provides many guidelines for meeting these targets, such as a focus on improving efficiency in order to reduce its need for “energy from out-of-state sources.” It also calls for “intentional community effort that networks existing capacities in state agencies” and declares a need to establish “new capacities, purposes, goals, indicators, and reporting requirements for climate change mitigation and adaptation in public agencies.” The Resilient RI Act was supported by Governor Lincoln Chafee, a number of state agencies, and academic institutions including Brown University.