Day: August 9, 2011

EPA Webinar on Converting Food Waste to Energy, August 17

On Wednesday, August 17, 2011, from 1-2 pm (EDT), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership will host a webinar examining the anaerobic digestion of food waste to generate renewable energy.

Food waste is one of the most important materials to divert from landfills: as food decomposes it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. In 2009, food waste was the largest category of municipal solid waste disposed, with more than 33 million tons of food waste sent to landfills. If half of the food waste generated each year were anaerobically digested, the amount of electricity generated could power more than 2.8 million average American homes for a year.

Anaerobic digestion can be performed at wastewater treatment plants, dairy digesters, or dedicated digesters for the organic portion of municipal solid waste. Anaerobic digestion produces two main products: biogas and a soil amendment. Biogas can be used for electricity generation, as a substitute for natural gas, or for vehicle fueling.

This webinar will explore how food scraps can be diverted from landfills and used to generate renewable energy. The webinar will review the environmental impacts associated with food waste disposal, the anaerobic digestion process, food waste collection programs, the use of biogas for energy, available EPA resources and tools, and the opportunities and hurdles associated with expanding the anaerobic digestion of food scraps. It will also highlight a unique partnership between the City of West Lafayette, Indiana and Purdue University whereby food scraps from the university’s cafeteria are sent to the city’s wastewater treatment plant to be used as an energy source.

Speakers include:

  • Blaine Collison, Program Director, U.S. EPA’s Green Power Partnership
  • Laura Moreno, Environmental Scientist, U.S. EPA, Pacific Southwest Region
  • David Henderson, Utility Director, West Lafayette, Indiana

Register for this webinar at

Winners: SEJ 10th Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment

The Society of Environmental Journalists is proud to present the winners of the 2010-2011 Awards for Reporting on the Environment. SEJ’s journalism contest is the world’s largest and most comprehensive awards for journalism on environmental topics.

Eighteen entries in six categories have been selected, including one honorable mention. Reporters, editors and journalism educators who served as contest judges pored over the 207 entries to choose the finalists representing the best environmental reporting in print and on television, radio and the Internet.

SEJ honors this year’s winners Sat., Oct. 22, 2011, at a gala ceremony at the Setai Hotel in South Beach, Miami, during SEJ’s 21st annual conference. First-place winners receive $500 and a trophy. Second-place winners receive $200 and a certificate, and $100 and a certificate goes to each third-place winner.

SEJ’s 2011 Awards for Reporting on the Environment are… 

Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Large Market

1st Place:  “The True Story Behind the Oil Spill” by Abrahm Lustgarten, Journalist, ProPublica, with independent producers Martin Smith, Marcela Gaviria and Ryan Knutson for PBS Frontline. 

2nd Place“The Pierced Heart of Madagascar” by freelancer Robert Draper, with photographer Pascal Maitre, for National Geographic.

3rd Place: “Fueling Fears” by Jim Morris, Senior Reporter; Chris Hamby, Reporter; Center for Public Integrity, and M.B. Pell, Staff Writer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in partnership with ABC News, working with reporter Matthew Mosk and correspondent Brian Ross.

Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market

1st Place: “Chinese Drywall: Why one of the biggest defective product investigations in U.S. history has left homeowners struggling for help” by Joaquin Sapien, Reporter, ProPublica; Aaron Kessler, Reporter, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; and Jeff Larson, News Applications Developer, ProPublica.

2nd Place: “Deep Impact: Natural Gas Drilling in the Marcellus Shale” by Laura Legere, Staff Writer, Scranton Times-Tribune.

3rd Place: “Accidental Wilderness” by David Wolman, Freelancer, High Country News.

Outstanding Beat Reporting, Large Market

1st Place: “BP Oil Spill Coverage” by Josh HarkinsonMac McClellandKate SheppardJulia Whitty, for Mother Jones.

2nd Place: “Chicago Beat Reporting” by Michael Hawthorne, Environment Reporter, Chicago Tribune.

3rd Place: “Environmental Reports” by Jeb Sharp, Senior Producer; Asma Khalid, Freelance Reporter/Producer; Marina Giovannelli, Metcalf Environmental Reporting Fellow; Alex Gallafent, Reporter; and Ari Daniel Shapiro,Independent Producer; PRI’s The World.

Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Market

1st Place: “Reporting on the BP Oil Spill” by David Hammer, Staff Writer, The Times-Picayune.

2nd Place: “Environmental Reporting in Montreal” by Michelle Lalonde, Environment Reporter, Montreal Gazette.

3rd Place: “Science Skeptics, Corporate Lobbyists and the Assault on Maine’s Environment” by Susan Sharon, Deputy News Director, Maine Public Broadcasting.

Outstanding Single Story

1st Place: “In Middle East, Coalition Aims to Ease Tension Over Water Resources” by Fred de Sam Lazaro,Correspondent; Nicole See, Producer/Editor; Tom Adair, Videographer; and Patti Parson, Managing Producer; PBS Newshour.

2nd Place: “Oklahoma’s Dirty Secret” by Jennifer Loren, Investigative Reporter, and Michael Woods, Photojournalist, KOTV/KWTV/

Honorable Mention: “Renegade Refiner” by Jim Morris, Senior Reporter, and Emma Schwartz, Reporter, Center for Public Integrity; and M. B. Pell, Staff Writer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Rachel Carson Environment Book Award

1st Place: Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature’s Bounty by Craig Allen Welch
William Morrow (New York, 2010)

2nd Place: Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed by Judy Pasternak Free Press (New York, 2010)

3rd Place: Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them by Laurence Packer HarperCollins (Toronto, 2010)

White House Announces First Ever Oil Savings Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks, Buses

Today, President Obama will meet with industry officials to discuss the first-of-their-kind fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy duty vehicles and to thank them for their leadership in finalizing a successful national program for these vehicles.  This meeting marks the administration’s announcement of the standards, which will save American businesses that operate and own these commercial vehicles approximately $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards in close coordination with the companies that met with the president today as well as other stakeholders, following requests from companies to develop this program.  The cost savings for American businesses are on top of the $1.7 trillion that American families will save at the pump from the historic fuel-efficiency standards announced by the Obama Administration for cars and light duty trucks, including the model year 2017-2025 agreement announced by the president last month.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” said President Obama.  “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks.  They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks.  And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks.”

“Thanks to the Obama Administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school,” said DOT Secretary LaHood.   “These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector, and promote energy independence for America.”

“This administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe and cutting carbon pollution – and programs like these ensure that we can serve those priorities while also reducing our dependence on imported oil and saving money for drivers,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “More efficient trucks on our highways and less pollution from the buses in our neighborhoods will allow us to breathe cleaner air and use less oil, providing a wide range of benefits to our health, our environment and our economy.”

Under the comprehensive new national program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons. Like the administration’s historic car standards, this program – which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies – was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets which are specific to the diverse vehicle types and purposes.  Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks).  Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.

The standards are expected to yield an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles, and to result in significant long-terms savings for vehicle owners and operators.  A semi-truck operator could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck’s useful life.  These cost saving standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants like particulate matter, which can lead to asthma, heart attacks and premature death.

By the 2018 model year, the program is expected to achieve significant savings relative to current levels, across vehicle types.  Certain combination tractors – commonly known as big-rigs or semi-trucks – will be required to achieve up to approximately 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving up to 4 gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards are required for gasoline-powered and diesel trucks. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to approximately 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018. Under the finalized standards a typical gasoline or diesel powered heavy-duty pickup truck or van could save one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Vocational vehicles – including delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks – will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions  by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018.  These trucks could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Beyond the direct benefits to businesses that own and operate these vehicles, the program will also benefit consumers and businesses by reducing costs for transporting goods, and spur growth in the clean energy sector by fostering innovative technologies and providing regulatory certainty for manufacturers.

More information is available on EPA’s website: and on NHTSA’s website:

Chicago Exchange’s Closure Drives Another Nail in US Carbon Market

Read the full story at ClimateBiz.

The embryonic US carbon market has received another blow after global exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE) reportedly confirmed that it is to close the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange early next year.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that ICE had issued a note to traders informing them that the exchange, which was acquired as part of the company’s $600 million acquisition last year of London-based Climate Exchange PLC, will close at the end of the first quarter of 2012.

Ray Anderson: An Appreciation

Ray Anderson was the founder and chairman of Interface, Inc. and a tireless advocate for sustainability in business. He died yesterday. Joel Makower has written a retrospective piece about what he meant to the green business community. Ray did a talk at the 2009 TED conference about the business logic of sustainability. It’s available here.

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