Day: March 2, 2016

Warren Buffett to shareholders: climate change is nothing to worry about

Read the full story in The Guardian.

But critics take the billionaire investor to task for saying, in an annual shareholder letter, that fears about the negative impact of climate change on Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance business are unfounded.

Dumping Fashion Waste on Craft Rooms Instead of Landfills

Read the full story at PSFK.

Manufacturing in China means plummeting costs of production. It may be  good for businesses that it’s getting cheaper to make things, however, it’s now even easier to just throw consumer items to the dump when they don’t meet expectations, stop working, or boast minor defects. Startup the Squirrelz has an interesting idea to tackle fashion’s millions of tons of fabric that stock up landfills: sell them for cheap to creatives.

Casualties of War

Read the full story in Earth Island Journal.

Radioactive waste from the nation’s atomic past could be connected to the high number of cancers and rare illnesses in North St. Louis County.

EPA Officials Collecting Data on Flint Water Lead Levels

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Federal officials are collecting data on the levels of lead in Flint’s water system and hope to be able to share the findings in April, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said.

When Will Flint’s Water Be Safe To Drink?

Read the full story at FiveThirtyEight.

Residents might have a hard time believing that it can ever be trusted.

Students Reveal How They Broke the Lead Contamination Case in Flint, Mich.

Read the full story in Scientific American.

Our team of more than two dozen students and research scientists at Virginia Tech has spent much of the past year analyzing and publicizing unsafe drinking water in Flint, Michigan.The Conversation

Our “open science” research collaboration with Flint residents revealed high levels of lead, Legionella and damage to potable water infrastructure due to a failure to implement corrosion control treatment.

Despite Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) messages that the water was safe, we fought to educate residents about severe public health risks. That work led to a declaration of a public health emergency, first by the city of Flint and later by the state of Michigan and President Barack Obama; garnered hundreds of millions of dollars in relief for Flint residents; and informed a national debate on “safe” drinking water in America.

Our work, by any measure, succeeded. But at the same time, this experience has forced us to confront broader questions.

We have learned that as well-trained scientists and engineers, we can be agents for positive change. However, we have also learned that many obstacles make it hard to do good science—not only in crisis situations, but every day.

GreenBiz 101: What does ‘zero waste’ really mean?

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

“Zero waste” sounds like a straightforward concept. MillerCoors is one example of the many companies trying to translate that ideal into practice.

EPA Funds Small Businesses to Develop Environmental Technologies

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced eight contracts to small businesses to develop innovative technologies to protect the environment, funded through EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.

“The green technologies that these SBIR companies are developing will help us address some of today’s most pressing environmental and public health issues” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

The phase II contracts announced today provide the companies $300,000 to further develop and commercialize their products and ideas. Phase II awards are only available to companies that previously submitted research proposals for their innovative technologies and were awarded phase I contracts up to $100,000.

Today’s recipients include:

  • Aspen Products Group, Inc. – Marlborough, Mass. for developing a filtration device to control emerging contaminants in drinking water supplies.
  • Environmental Fuel Research, LLC – Philadelphia, Pa. for developing a system to produce biofuel from grease trap waste.
  • ETSVP-JV, LLC – Roanoke, Va. for developing innovative filters using nanomaterials to remove gaseous pollutants and particulates from contaminated air streams.
  • Lucid Design Group, Inc. – Oakland, Calif. for developing technology to drive behavior energy savings in commercial buildings.
  • MesoCoat, Inc. – Euclid, Ohio for developing corrosion-resistant coatings on steel to replace current more hazardous methods.
  • Precision Combustion, Inc. – North Haven, Conn. for developing regenerable high efficiency filter technology to remove gaseous pollutants from indoor air.
  • Sustainable Bioproducts, LLC – Bozeman, Mont. for developing a low-cost, simple, and scalable microbial process for conversion of municipal solid waste to fuels using fungus.
  • Vista Photonics, Inc. – Las Cruces, N.M. for developing an inexpensive, high-performance, portable air pollution monitor to continuously measure atmospheric ammonia.

EPA funds many environmentally-minded small businesses so they can bring their innovative technologies to market. A previous SBIR winner, GVD Corporation, created an environmentally friendly mold-release coating that makes indoor air healthier in manufacturing facilities by reducing the use of harmful chemicals.

Okeanos Technologies is developing a new energy-efficient seawater desalination technology that could provide clean and affordable water where it is needed most. Providence Photonics is working to develop a real-time monitor that optimizes flare operation and reduces overall air toxics emissions from flaring activities in industrial facilities across the United States.

EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, which was enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs and promote U.S. technical innovation. To be eligible to participate in the SBIR program, a company must be an organized, for-profit U.S. business and have fewer than 500 employees.

For more information on EPA’s SBIR Phase II recipients, visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/recipients.display/rfa_id/615/records_per_page/ALL

Learn more about EPA’s SBIR program at www.epa.gov/sbir

EPA urges states to locate lead water lines as required

Read the full story in the Detroit Free Press.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday sent letters to governors and water regulators across the U.S. promising greater enforcement of rules to protect citizens from lead in drinking water in the wake of the crisis in Flint and urging every state to locate lead water lines as required.

What This Year’s El Niño Means for California’s Drought

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

When scientists predicted a big El Niño for this winter, Californians were hoping for some relief from their years-long drought. El Niños usually bring many more rainy days to the Golden State (though that’s not guaranteed). Now, that hope is looking a bit thin, although not totally dashed.

So far, northern California has received about average rainfall for the winter; Los Angeles has seen just half of its average. February was particularly dry, a fact that’s led some to worry that El Niño was a bust. But while this year’s ocean phenomenon has offered a little relief, even a very rainy El Niño wouldn’t have made up for years of water debt in California’s reservoirs.

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