Read the full story in Governing.
Foretelling a new environmental battle between state and federal regulators, Attorney General Greg Abbott this week demanded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency back down from a proposal to expand the definition of federal waters to include seasonal and rain-dependent waterways.
Vincent C. Tidwell, Barbie Moreland, and Katie Zemlick (2014). “Geographic Footprint of Electricity Use for Water Services in the Western U.S.” Environmental Science & Technology 48 (15), 8897-8904 DOI: 10.1021/es5016845
Abstract: A significant fraction of our nation’s electricity use goes to lift, convey, and treat water, while the resulting expenditures on electricity represent a key budgetary consideration for water service providers. To improve understanding of the electricity-for-water interdependency, electricity used in providing water services is mapped at the regional, state and county level for the 17-conterminous states in the Western U.S. This study is unique in estimating electricity use for large-scale conveyance and agricultural pumping as well as mapping these electricity uses along with that for drinking and wastewater services at a state and county level. Results indicate that drinking and wastewater account for roughly 2% of total West-wide electricity use, while an additional 1.2% is consumed by large-scale conveyance projects and 2.6% is consumed by agricultural pumping. The percent of electricity used for water services varies strongly by state with some as high as 34%, while other states expend less than 1%. Every county in the West uses some electricity for water services; however, there is a large disparity in use ranging from 10 MWh/yr to 5.8 TWh/yr. These results support long-term transmission planning in the Western U.S. by characterizing an important component of the electric load.
Read the full post at the Climate Law Blog.
In 2013, President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force devised the Rebuild by Design Competition. Applicants were to design a “fundable and implementable” infrastructure project to mitigate the dangers of rising sea levels and increasingly frequent extreme weather events in New York and New Jersey coastal regions. In early June 2014, the United States Department of Housing and Development (HUD) announced the six winners. The most ambitious of the project winners is the “BIG U,” which would circle around 10 continuous miles of Lower Manhattan shoreline, using a mix of natural and physical infrastructure to protect the city’s most vulnerable stretch of coast. HUD Phase 1 funding for the project will be $335 million, the largest Rebuild by Design award. The Lower East Side section of the BIG U promises integrated flood protection and upgraded “social infrastructure,” such as parks and walkways, for an area that suffered extensive damage from Sandy.
Read the full story in the New York Times.
Amid the state’s crippling drought, many communities are fighting not the mere cultivation of cannabis — which is legal in the state, though subject to myriad restrictions — but the growers’ use of water. Marijuana is a thirsty plant, and cultivating it at a time when California residents are subject to water restrictions has become a sticky issue.
Knut Breivik, James M. Armitage, Frank Wania, and Kevin C. Jones (2014). “Tracking the Global Generation and Exports of e-Waste. Do Existing Estimates Add up?” Environmental Science & Technology 48 (15), 8735-8743 DOI: 10.1021/es5021313
Abstract: The transport of discarded electronic and electrical appliances (e-waste) to developing regions has received considerable attention, but it is difficult to assess the significance of this issue without a quantitative understanding of the amounts involved. The main objective of this study is to track the global transport of e-wastes by compiling and constraining existing estimates of the amount of e-waste generated domestically in each country MGEN, exported from countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) MEXP, and imported in countries outside of the OECD MIMP. Reference year is 2005 and all estimates are given with an uncertainty range. Estimates of MGEN obtained by apportioning a global total of 35,000 kt (range 20,000–50,000 kt) based on a nation’s gross domestic product agree well with independent estimates of MGEN for individual countries. Import estimates MIMP to the countries believed to be the major recipients of e-waste exports from the OECD globally (China, India, and five West African countries) suggests that 5,000 kt (3,600 kt–7,300 kt) may have been imported annually to these non-OECD countries alone, which represents 23% (17%–34%) of the amounts of e-waste generated domestically within the OECD. MEXP for each OECD country is then estimated by applying this fraction of 23% to its MGEN. By allocating each country’s MGEN, MIMP, MEXP and MNET = MGEN + MIMP – MEXP, we can map the global generation and flows of e-waste from OECD to non-OECD countries. While significant uncertainties remain, we note that estimated import into seven non-OECD countries alone are often at the higher end of estimates of exports from OECD countries.
Read the full story from the University of Maryland.
Thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of an instructor and students from the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA), Terps moving into the dormitories for the fall 2014 semester will receive green plants to help decorate their rooms and improve air quality.
IAA instructor and advisor Ken Ingram was awarded a grant through the Pepsi Enhancement Fund to supply the plants. Pepsi grants fund programs or events that create a campus community, appeal to campus citizens and advance the university’s academic mission.
Read the full story from the University of Florida.
When the ants come marching in, having miles of linked habitats may not be such a good idea after all.
In a classic example of the law of unintended consequences, new University of Florida research suggests that wildlife corridors – strips of natural land created to reconnect habitats separated by agriculture or human activities — can sometimes encourage the spread of invasive species such as one type of fire ant.