Facilities to Begin Reporting on 1-bromopropane

On November 23, EPA finalized a rule to add 1-bromopropane to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) chemical list. 1-bromopropane is used as a solvent, degreaser and adhesive, and often as a chemical intermediate in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, flavors, and fragrances. EPA believes this chemical meets the TRI listing criteria because it can reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer in humans.

EPA estimates that 140 facilities will be affected by this final rule. The first TRI data on 1-bromopropane are due to EPA by July 1, 2017.

This action will give communities more information about toxic chemical releases from local industries, as well as insights into what those facilities are doing to prevent pollution.

Walmart sustainability at 10: The birth of a notion

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

It’s been 10 years since Walmart set out on its quest to become a leader in sustainability, beginning with three bold, aspirational goals. This is the first of a two-part series that takes stock of the company and its progress, as well as its sustainability journey over the past decade. Part one looks at the origins of Walmart’s strategy. Part two will assess the company’s progress.

Supercomputers, Tornadoes, and the Biggest Unsolved Mystery in Weather Technology

Read the full story in the Atlantic.

Even the best forecasting tools can’t predict monster twisters quickly enough.

Comparison of production-phase environmental impact metrics derived at the farm- and national-scale for United States agricultural commodities

Christine Costello, Xiaobo Xue, and Robert W Howarth (2015). “Comparison of production-phase environmental impact metrics derived at the farm- and national-scale for United States agricultural commodities.” Environmental Research Letters 10(11), 14 p. Online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114004. Open access.

Abstract: Agricultural production is critical for human survival and simultaneously contributes to ecosystem degradation. There is a need for transparent, rapid methods for evaluating the environmental impacts of agricultural production at the system-level in order to develop sustainable food supplies. We have developed a method for estimating the greenhouse gas (GHG), land use and reactive nitrogen inputs associated with the agricultural production phase of major crop and livestock commodities produced in the United States (US). Materials flow analysis (MFA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) techniques were applied to national inventory datasets. The net anthropogenic nitrogen inputs (NANI) toolbox served as the primary accounting tool for LCA and MFA. NANI was updated to create links between nitrogen fertilizer and nitrogen fixation associated with feed crops and animal food commodities. Results for the functional units kilogram (kg) of product and kg of protein for 2002 data fall within ranges of published LCA results from farm-scale studies across most metrics. Exceptions include eutrophication potential for milk and GHGs for chicken and eggs, these exceptions arise due to differing methods and boundary assumptions; suggestions for increasing agreement are identified. Land use for livestock commodities are generally higher than reported by other LCA studies due to the inclusion of all land identified as pasture or grazing land in the US in this study and given that most of the estimates from other LCAs were completed in Europe where land is less abundant. The method provides a view of the entire US agricultural system and could be applied to any year using publically available data. Additionally, utilizing a top-down approach reduces data collection and processing time making it possible to develop environmental inventory metrics rapidly for system-level decision-making.

Washington State Court Affirms that Climate Change Affects Public Trust Resources but Denies Relief

Read the full post at the Climate Law Blog.

On November 19, the Washington State Superior Court issued a decision in which it affirmed that climate change affects public trust resources in the state, but ultimately held that the state was fulfilling its public trust obligations by engaging in rulemaking to establish more comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) standards. The decision was a partial victory for Our Children’s Trust, an organization that has been pursuing a nationwide litigation campaign to protect the earth for current and future generations.

Notably, the court did not expand the definition of “public trust resources” protected under the Washington State Constitution to encompass the atmosphere. Rather, the court explained that climate change poses a threat to the state’s navigable waters, a traditional public trust resource, and the state has an obligation to protect those waters from harm.

Greening the Federal Purchasing Machine – Leading By Example

Read the full post at EPA Connect.

Did you know that the Federal government is the single largest consumer in the world, spending close to $500 billion each year on a wide variety of products and services?

And did you know that in March the President issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to meet a goal of buying 100% environmentally preferable products and services? This can make a big difference in reducing our environmental footprint. It can also spur consumers and the private sector to use and demand safer and greener products.

Of course the big challenge for federal agencies is how to sort through the hundreds of products with private labels that claim to be safe or environmentally friendly.

Iowa’s Climate-Change Wisdom

Read the full op-ed in the New York Times.

Negotiators en route to the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris, scheduled to begin later this month, should take a detour on rural roads here in Johnson County. A new climate narrative is emerging among farmers in the American heartland that transcends a lot of the old story lines of denial and cynicism, and offers an updated tale of climate hope.