Iowa’s Kids Will Now Be Taught Accurate Climate Science In School

Read the full story at Climate Progress.

The state that will host the first-in-the-nation caucuses and a Republican presidential debate in January of next year will be teaching its kids mainstream climate science in school.

On Thursday, the Iowa State Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, which set science and engineering educational expectations for public school kids. They are voluntary guidelines that allow states to decide if they want to provide standards that include the teaching of climate science and evolution.

This makes Iowa the 15th state to approve the standards, joining Arkansas (for middle school), California, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.

The Midwest’s corn fields are even worse for the planet than we thought

Read the full post at Grist.

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how fertilizer from the Midwest’s big corn farms seeps into streams and causes trouble — fouling water supplies in ColumbusToledo, Des Moines, and 60 other towns in Iowa, and generating a Connecticut-sized dead zone at the heart of the continental United States’ most productive fishery, the Gulf of Mexico. (Farms in the region also plant soybeans, but corn is by far the bigger fertilizer user.) But there’s another way the Corn Belt’s fertilizer habit damages a common resource: by releasing nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas with nearly 300 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide.

It turns out that the region’s farms are likely generating much more nitrous oxide than scientists previously thought, according to a new peer-reviewed study by a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota, Yale, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

EPA Proposes New Measures to Cut Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Sector

Continuing the Obama Administration’s commitment to take action on climate change and protect public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing commonsense proposed standards today that would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the oil and natural gas industry. The proposal is a part of the Administration’s strategy under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.

Methane, the key constituent of natural gas, is a potent GHG with a global warming potential more than 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities, and nearly 30 percent of those emissions come from oil production and the production, transmission and distribution of natural gas.

“Today, through our cost-effective proposed standards, we are underscoring our commitment to reducing the pollution fueling climate change and protecting public health while supporting responsible energy development, transparency and accountability,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Cleaner-burning energy sources like natural gas are key compliance options for our Clean Power Plan and we are committed to ensuring safe and responsible production that supports a robust clean energy economy.”

The proposed standards for new and modified sources are expected to reduce 340,000 to 400,000 short tons of methane in 2025, the equivalent of reducing 7.7 to 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. EPA estimates the rule will yield net climate benefits of $120 to $150 million in 2025. Those standards are also expected to reduce 170,000 to 180,000 tons of ozone-forming VOCs in 2025, along with 1,900 to 2,500 tons of air toxics, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Ozone is linked to a variety of serious public health effects, including reduced lung function, asthma attacks, asthma development, emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and early death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes. Air toxics include chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health effects.

The proposed standards will complement voluntary efforts, including EPA’s Methane Challenge Program, and are based on practices and technology currently used by industry. To cut methane and VOC emissions, the proposal requires:

  • Finding and repairing leaks;
  • Capturing natural gas from the completion of hydraulically fractured oil wells;
  • Limiting emissions from new and modified pneumatic pumps; and
  • Limiting emissions from several types of equipment used at natural gas transmission compressor stations, including compressors and pneumatic controllers.

EPA’s Methane Challenge Program that was proposed earlier this year expands on the successful Natural Gas STAR program, which serves as a platform for companies who want to make an ambitious and transparent commitments to address methane emissions. This flexible program has the potential to foster significant cost-effective emission reductions across the oil and gas sector and to provide transparency on the progress partner companies are making to reduce emissions.

As part of the proposal announced today, the agency is updating the 2012 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to address methane as well as VOC emissions for sources covered in that rule. EPA’s proposal would also require that industry reduce VOC and methane emissions from hydraulically fractured and refractured oil wells, which can contain significant amounts of natural gas along with oil. In addition, the proposal means methane and VOC reductions “downstream” from wells and production sites, covering equipment in the natural gas transmission segment of the industry that was not regulated in the agency’s 2012 oil and natural gas rules. Additionally, the agency proposes to clarify and streamline Clean Air Act permitting requirements in states and Indian country.

Today’s proposal includes proposed guidelines for states to reduce VOC emissions from existing oil and gas sources in certain ozone nonattainment areas as well as mid-Atlantic and Northeast states that are part of the Ozone Transport Region.

EPA will take comment on the proposals for 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold public hearings and will announce details soon.

More information, including technical fact sheets, is available at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/actions.html

The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Download the document.

The International Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranks the world’s largest economies on their energy efficiency policies and programs. The rankings include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

Thirty-one different energy efficiency indicators have been analyzed for each economy ranked in the report. The rankings are determined by scoring out of 100 possible points. Points can be earned in four different categories, including buildings, industry, transportation, and national effort, which measures overall or cross-cutting indicators of energy use at the national level.

Two upcoming WaterSense webinars

A for Assess: Setting Goals and Developing a Water Management Plan
Thu, Aug 27, 2015 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3046252306454514433

Join us for WaterSense’s second of four technical training webinars of 2015 for C&I facilities. As discussed in the first webinar of this series, water management planning starts with a facility assessment. This webinar will build on that concept by helping participants use the information collected during a facility assessment to establish water use reduction goals and develop a water management plan. Following this webinar, you’ll be ready to prepare your water management plan by incorporating realistic goals—which is the next step in managing and reducing your water use.

C for Change: Implementing Your Water Management Plan and Other Best Management Practices
Thu, Oct 22, 2015 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM CDT
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6444765782096765697

WaterSense’s third of four technical training webinars of 2015 for C&I facilities will walk through some of the most cost-effective projects and biggest water savers that can be implemented at your facility. WaterSense will provide an overview of water-efficient operating procedures, retrofits, and replacements in private use restrooms, public restrooms, commercial kitchens, mechanical spaces, and outdoor landscapes. From this webinar, participants should come away with new ideas and more details about water-saving projects to implement at their facility.

To view archived WaterSense webinars, visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/commercial/webinars.html.

DOE Publishes GATEWAY Report on Successful LED Wall Washer Retrofit

Download the report.

The U.S. Department of Energy has released a report on a GATEWAY demonstration, in which maintenance and energy costs were significantly reduced while retaining the quality of light when LED modules replaced 87 halogen lamps in existing wall washers at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The project began with mockups in the spring of 2014, with final installation completed in March 2015. The primary goals were to maintain the visual appearance of the space while reducing maintenance costs, with energy savings considered an additional benefit.

Ex-cons at LA Kitchen Feed the Hungry with Food Waste

Read the full story at Shareable.

“Neither food nor people should ever go to waste.”

This is the motto of the LA Kitchen, a project that recovers healthy, local food from the waste stream to feed the hungry and gives unemployed adults—particularly adults exiting prison as well as foster kids aging out of the system—culinary training. The meals they create are distributed to Los Angeles’ most vulnerable populations, with a focus on the elderly.