Cities launch short and long-term strategies to combat heat waves

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

This week brings a new heat dome over much of the U.S. Cities have to adapt to more dangerous summers, but policies and strategies vary.

Biden administration launches $500 million program to transform mines into new clean energy hubs

The Biden Administration through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently issued a Request For Information (RFI) to inform a $500 million program funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to place clean energy demonstration projects on current or former mine lands across America. Operated through DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, the Clean Energy Demonstrations on Current and Former Mine Land Program will fund clean energy projects – such as geothermal energy – on mine land to benefit communities and their economies, create good-paying jobs and reduce carbon pollution. The revitalization of mine land to deploy cheaper, cleaner power to more Americans will further the objective of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities which seeks to deliver federal investment to revitalize hard-hit energy communities. It will also advance the Justice40 Initiative which aims to deliver 40% of the benefits of clean energy and climate investments to disadvantaged communities. 

“Developing clean energy on mine lands is an opportunity for fossil fuel communities, which have powered our nation for a generation, to receive an economic boost and play a leadership role in our clean energy transition,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The investments in the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help America’s mining workforce apply their skills to grow and deploy cheaper, cleaner energy across the country.”   

Located in geographically diverse regions across the U.S, mine land offers an important opportunity to spur economic development and create jobs in clean energy industries. A recent EPA analysis found approximately 17,750 mine land sites located across 1.5 million acres in the United States. If all of these current or former U.S. mine land were to be redeveloped with clean energy projects, up to 89 gigawatts of clean electricity could be deployed, enough to power millions of American homes. 

The Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land will demonstrate innovative mine land conversion to clean energy projects with a goal of replication across the country. The program will support projects that demonstrate one or more of the following clean energy technologies on mining sites:

  • Solar
  • Microgrids 
  • Geothermal energy 
  • Direct air capture 
  • Fossil-fueled generation with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration 
  • Energy storage, including pumped-storage hydropower and compressed air 
  • Advanced nuclear 

Two of the clean energy demonstration projects funded under this program must include solar energy and DOE is seeking information from respondents about opportunities to use domestically-manufactured solar for these projects.

DOE is seeking feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including industry, community organizations, environmental justice organizations labor unions, and state and local governments. Public input is sought on how to design the program such that it will best encourage private-sector investment in similar projects leading to economic development for underserved communities located near current and former mine land while advancing environmental justice. The selected projects will chart a course to navigate federal, state, and local rules and regulations for siting and grid interconnection, mine remediation, post-mining land use, environmental safety and other important processes to successfully develop and operate clean energy projects on current or former mine land. 

In addition to this DOE program, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a total of $11.3 billion in abandoned mine land grant funding at the Department of the Interior to eligible states and Tribes to help communities eliminate dangerous environmental hazards and pollution caused by past coal mining while creating jobs and providing opportunities to revitalize coal communities. These reclamation projects enable economic revitalization by rehabilitating hazardous land so that it can be used for recreational facilities or other economic redevelopment uses like advanced manufacturing and renewable energy deployment being funded by this DOE program. 

DOE expects to announce a funding opportunity to solicit project proposals in 2023. 

Feedback to this RFI can be submitted on OCED Exchange

U.S. Department of Energy will fund applied research and development to accelerate decarbonization of American industry

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) recently announced its intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that will support DOE’s efforts to decarbonize the American industrial sector and move the U.S. toward net-zero carbon emissions.  

The industrial sector currently accounts for one third of domestic, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. DOE’s new FOA will support the advancement of a range of decarbonization technologies that can shrink the carbon footprint of America’s vital industries.  

Decarbonizing industry presents a difficult challenge, given the wide range of energy inputs and complexity of industrial processes. It will require the U.S. to pursue multiple strategies in parallel. DOE has identified four key pathways to industrial decarbonization: energy efficiency; industrial electrification; low carbon fuels, feedstocks, and energy sources; and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. 

The “Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization FOA” is expected to include the following topics, applying the four industrial decarbonization pathways to energy-intensive American industries where decarbonization technologies could have the greatest impact:  

  • Decarbonizing Chemicals: This topic will focus on unit operations, including advanced separations and advanced reactors, and alternative production and process heating technologies to reduce carbon impacts from the production of high-volume chemicals.
  • Decarbonizing Iron and Steel: This topic will focus on advancements that enable decarbonization in ore-based or scrap-based iron and steelmaking operations, and that convert other existing iron and steelmaking ancillary and thermal processes to use clean fuels or electricity.
  • Decarbonizing Food and Beverage Products: This topic will focus on innovative technologies that decarbonize process heating operations within the food and beverage sector.
  • Decarbonizing Cement and Concrete: This topic will focus on next generation cement formulations and process routes, utilization of low carbon fuels, and carbon capture technologies.
  • Decarbonizing Paper and Forest Products: This topic will focus on novel paper and wood drying technologies, and innovative pulping and paper forming technologies.
  • Cross-sector Decarbonization Technologies: This topic will focus on innovations in low temperature waste heat to power, thermal energy storage, and industrial heat pump technologies. 

DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office plans to issue the FOA via EERE Exchange in August 2022. EERE envisions awarding multiple financial assistance awards in the form of cooperative agreements. The estimated period of performance for each award will be approximately 24-36 months.

For more information about this NOI, visit the Advanced Manufacturing Office website.

EPA seeks small businesses’ input on development of proposed TSCA Data Reporting Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting small businesses to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SERs) for a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel. This Panel will focus on EPA’s development of a proposed rule to collect data to inform each step of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation and risk management process.

The proposed rule would establish a framework of reporting requirements based on a chemical’s status in the TSCA Section 6 Risk Evaluation/Risk Management Lifecycle. Additionally, this new data reporting rule would enhance the exposure-related data collected through the TSCA Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) process. EPA is interested in ensuring its data collection strategies provide information to better meet the agency’s basic chemical data needs, such as information related to exposure, health and eco-toxicity. Collecting data geared specifically towards prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management would help ensure the agency has relevant and timely data to inform each step of the process for reviewing potential risks from existing chemicals.

The data reporting rule, including changes to CDR, is tiered to specific stages of the TSCA Section 6 existing chemicals program: 

  • Identifying a pre-prioritization pool of substances as potential candidates for prioritization; 
  • Selecting candidate chemicals and completing the prioritization process; and 
  • Assessing high-priority substances through a robust risk evaluation, which may be followed by risk management actions (depending on the outcome of the risk evaluation). 

Tying specific reporting requirements to the activities that make use of reported data will also reduce the burden related to data collection efforts while ensuring that EPA has the information it needs to fulfill its risk evaluation and risk management responsibilities.

The proposed rule is intended to create a framework to obtain information about potential hazards and exposure pathways related to certain chemicals, particularly occupational, environmental, and consumer exposure information. EPA’s ability to collect data under this proposed rule would derive from authorities in TSCA sections 8(a) and 8(d), which give EPA authority to require:

  • Manufacturers and processors to provide known or reasonably ascertainable information, including chemical identity, production volumes, uses, byproducts, and worker exposure; and
  • Manufacturers, processors and distributors to submit health and safety information.

The potentially regulated community consists of entities that manufacture, import or process chemical substances, potentially including when the chemical substance is manufactured as a byproduct or is part of a formulated product or article (including import and processing). Most respondents anticipated to be affected by this collection activity are from the manufacturing sectors, including chemical manufacturing; petroleum and coal product manufacturing; chemical, petroleum and merchant wholesalers; paper, plastics, paint and printing ink manufacturing; electronic product and component manufacturing; or other activities, including utilities and construction. Learn more about potentially regulated entities.

The Panel, convened under the authority of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and EPA. The Panel members ask a selected group of SERs to provide advice and recommendations on behalf of their company, government, or organization to inform the Panel members about the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities.

EPA seeks self-nominations directly from the small entities that may be subject to the rule requirements. Other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs.

Self-nominations may be submitted through the link below and must be received by July 20, 2022.

Nominate yourself as a SER

Renewable energy project demonstrates efficiencies, benefits of clean energy geothermal systems

Read the full story from University of Illinois Extension.

The State of Illinois has committed to achieving a carbon-free footprint by 2050 through its recently passed Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. Plans to phase out coal-fired and natural gas power plants before 2045 means steps are needed now to move Illinois to a more sustainable future using renewable energy sources.

Geothermal energy, a natural source of renewable energy underground, is considered a consistent and efficient alternative for heating and cooling and provides a baseline source for the energy grid. Researchers and educators at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign say that geothermal energy could play an important role for Illinois to reach its zero-carbon emissions goal.

Will renaming carp help control them?

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Illinois officials this month announced that Asian carp would now be called “copi” in an attempt to make the fish more desirable for eating. Joseph Parkos, the director of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Kaskaskia, Ridge Lake and Sam Parr biological stations in Illinois, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about scientific initiatives to study and control carp/copi fish populations and the potential for rebranding to aid those efforts.

What’s missing from the circular economy, according to 10 emerging leaders

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

It’s been half a decade since the start of GreenBiz Group’s Emerging Leaders program, which has the goal of supporting students and young professionals who identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of color and are working to become sustainability leaders of the future.

With all of the cohorts that I’ve had the privilege of meeting, two characteristics they have in common is their desire to address climate change and their push to make the sustainability field more inclusive and ambitious in its actions.

In our last Emerging Leaders piece, I wrote, “For the business community, climate action requires listening to and learning from one another.” That includes learning from the younger people in the rooms, as well. The Circularity 22 Emerging Leaders cohort was made up of 10 students and young professionals — based in cities across the United States, plus Vancouver, British Columbia. And their expertise comes from a variety of areas: engineering; reuse; and fashion, to name a few.

We asked them, “What do you think is missing from conversations about the circular economy and corporate action (using circular economy principles) on addressing the climate crisis?”

Food Contact Chemicals Database

The Food Contact Chemicals database (FCCdb) contains an extensive set of intentionally added food contact chemicals (FCCs), with hazard and regulatory information included where available.

The FCCdb is freely downloadable and searchable as a Microsoft Excel file from the Zenodo repository. The list of 608 identified priority FCCs can be downloaded from the scientific article’s supplementary information as a separate Microsoft Excel file.

The database was developed by the Food Packaging Forum.

Study: Proposed nitrogen fertilizer policies could protect farmer profits, environment

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Nitrogen fertilizer has major implications for crop yields and environmental health, specifically water quality in the Gulf of Mexico. Federal and state governments have shied away from regulating nitrogen fertilizer use, but voluntary and incentives-based programs have not been particularly successful; the oxygen-starved “dead zone” in the Gulf remains much larger than goals set by the federal-state Hypoxia Task Force.

A new University of Illinois study explores potential policy solutions to reduce nitrogen loss while still protecting farmers’ bottom lines. 

Lake Michigan water-level rise affects inland waterways, study finds

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

2020 marked Lake Michigan’s highest water level in 120 years, experts said, and climate variance makes future water levels challenging to predict. Coastal impacts are well-documented, but the effect of lake level rise on the area’s inland waterways is poorly understood. A University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study examined how Lake Michigan’s rising levels affect water quality, flood control and invasive species management within the Chicago-area waterway system that connects the lake to Illinois, Indiana and the Mississippi River basin.