FY 2017 Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Grants

Proposals due December 22, 2016.
More information available at https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/apply-brownfields-grant-funding

Assessment Grants (funded over three years)

Community-wide or Site-Specific Applicants: Applicants may apply for up to $200,000 in hazardous substances funding or up to $200,000 in petroleum funding.

Community-wide Applicants: Applicants applying for both hazardous substances funding and petroleum funding may request a combined total up to $300,000; however the request for hazardous substances funding or petroleum funding cannot exceed $200,000 for any one individual type of grant funding. For example, an applicant may apply for $200,000 in hazardous substances funding and $100,000 in petroleum funding.

Assessment Coalition Applicants: Applicants may apply for up to $600,000 in hazardous substances funding and/or petroleum funding.

Cleanup Grants (funded over three years)

Applicants can apply for up to $200,000 per brownfield site and can submit up to three separate, site-specific cleanup proposals.

The Next Flint Water Crisis

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

Walk through an unincorporated stretch of Wake County outside Raleigh, North Carolina, and it might look just as dense and developed as the town proper. But there’s an important, invisible difference: Folks there may not have access to the city’s municipal water system. Instead, their homes draw from private wells and septic tanks.

While not all unincorporated Wake County communities lack piped water, those that have a larger black population are more likely to depend on wells and septic tanks, according to a 2014 study. “They were excluded probably for historical reasons, during the Jim Crow era,” says University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill environmental researcher Jackie MacDonald Gibson, the leader of the 2014 study.

Now, MacDonald Gibson has a new study that demonstrates the toll that history has had on residents’ health. The kitchen tap water in majority-black Wake County communities that depend on wells is more than 50 times more likely to contain coliform bacteria — and more than 700 times more likely to contain E. coli — than the municipal water that’s available to majority-white neighborhoods just next door.

USDA, EPA Announce U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy announced the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, U.S. businesses and organizations pledging concrete steps to reduce food loss and waste in their operations 50 percent by 2030.

Champions announced include Ahold USA, Blue Apron, Bon Appétit Management Company, Campbell Soup Company, Conagra Brands, Delhaize America, General Mills, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, Sodexo, Unilever, Walmart, Wegman’s Food Markets, Weis Markets and YUM! Brands.

“The founding 2030 Champions have shown exceptional leadership in the fight to reduce, recover and recycle food loss and waste,” said Vilsack. “The staggering amount of wasted food in the United States has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation and climate change. To help galvanize U.S. efforts to reduce food loss and waste, USDA and EPA announced the first U.S. food loss and waste reduction goal in September 2015. Today, the first 15 Champions are stepping up to do their part to help the nation reach this critical goal.”

“Reducing food waste is good for business, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for our communities,” said McCarthy. “We need leaders in every field and every sector to help us reach our food loss goal.  That’s why we’re excited to work with the 2030 Champions and others across the food retail industry as we work together to ensure that we feed families instead of landfills.”

In the United States, EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, about 21 percent of the waste stream. Keeping wholesome and nutritious food in our communities and out of landfills helps communities and the 42 million Americans that live in food insecure households. Reducing food waste also impacts climate change as 20 percent of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills.

Each 2030 Champion establishes a baseline marking where they are today and will measure and report on their progress toward the goal in a way that makes sense for their organization. There are many ways to look at food loss and waste and definitions vary. 2030 Champions are encouraged to consult the Food Loss and Waste Protocol for information on defining and transparently measuring food loss and waste.

USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that the amount of food that went uneaten at the retail and consumer levels in the baseline year of 2010 represented 31 percent of the available food supply, about 133 billion pounds of food worth an estimated $161.6 billion.

USDA research estimates that about 90 billion pounds comes from consumers, costing $370 per person every year. USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion produces a resource, called Let’s Talk Trash, which focuses on consumer education, highlighting key data and action steps consumers can take to reduce food waste.

Full Speed Ahead: Shipping Plans Grow as Arctic Ice Fades

Read the full story at e360.

Russia, China, and other nations are stepping up preparations for the day when large numbers of cargo ships will be traversing a once-icebound Arctic Ocean. But with vessels already plying these waters, experts say the time is now to prepare for the inevitable environmental fallout.

Hundreds Of U.S. Businesses Urge Trump To Uphold Paris Climate Deal

Read the full story from NPR.

Hundreds of businesses such as Starbucks, General Mills and Hewlett Packard are asking President-elect Donald Trump to follow through on U.S. commitments to combat climate change. They argue it’s good for business.

New System Predicts Risk for Chemical Products

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill devised a computational approach by which they can increase accuracy in detecting toxins in chemical products to as much as 85 percent while also saving millions of dollars and years of development time for new drugs and other products, as well as improving safety…

The study, which was published in Green Chemistry, can be viewed here.

$1.6 million saved by Iowa companies through Pollution Prevention Intern Program

Iowa companies have saved more than $1.6 million dollars in the last year thanks to waste-reducing projects completed by 16 interns from the DNR’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Intern Program. Six of these 16 projects represent the final results of 24-week projects completed at the end of 2015.

Interns recommend and implement projects that will help Iowa businesses improve how they use resources. These projects divert waste from landfills, reduce hazardous waste, conserve water and energy, and reduce greenhouse gases and emissions.  Annual environmental reductions generated in 2016 include:

  • 1.16 billion gallons of water
  • 1,215 tons of solid and special waste
  • 1,215 tons of hazardous waste
  • 1.2 million kilowatt hours (kWh)
  • 4,220 MTCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent – used to measure emissions)

The P2 Intern Program matches top engineering students with Iowa businesses interested in cost-effective ways to cut or eliminate waste from their operations that improve environmental performance and save money. Since 2001, companies have saved more than $81.9 million through P2 Intern Program projects.

“The real value of the intern program has been to obtain a talented engineering student to compile data and provide in-depth technical analysis, with actionable recommendations. The results from our P2 projects have helped us to make informed decisions that improve our efficiency and reduce our operating costs,” said Todd Fails, Site Services Team Leader at Zoetis Global Supply in Charles City.

After a week of orientation and training with program advisors, upper-level engineering students from Iowa’s state universities work at selected host facilities to analyze current systems, research alternative processes or technologies and recommend cost effective strategies to improve the way they manufacture, consume, reuse, and recycle materials and resources.

Companies interested in participating in the 2017 Pollution Prevention Intern Program can submit a project request for either a 12- or 24-week project by Dec. 1. Project request forms and full case summaries of the intern projects are available at www.iowap2interns.com.

Lessons In Leftovers

Read the full story in Full Service Restaurants.

In June, five of the top Bay Area chefs collaborated on a “Waste Not, Want Not” dinner, held at The Perennial in San Francisco. Organized by the Natural Resources Defense Council (nrdc), the benefit had a two-fold goal: to raise money and to showcase a stellar meal made largely using leftover foods.

The chefs—Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn, Nick Balla and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine, Traci Des Jardins of Jardinière, and Chris Kiyuna of The Perennial—each prepared an appetizer and an entrée, and Chef Kiyuna prepared a dessert.

During the event, the chefs talked to guests about the food and the chefs’ personal philosophies about food waste.

Moral Values Influence Level of Climate Change Action

Read the full story from Cornell University.

Two moral values highly rated by liberals — compassion and fairness — influence willingness to make personal choices to mitigate climate change’s impact in the future, according to a new multidisciplinary study by Cornell University researchers.

The findings also suggest that a moral value rated more highly by conservatives – purity – also appears to have a positive effect, though not as pronounced as compassion and fairness.

Those insights from a group of four researchers at Cornell – Janis Dickinson, professor of natural resources; Poppy McLeod, professor of communication; Robert Bloomfield, professor of management and professor of accounting; and Shorna Allred, professor of natural resources – were published in PLOS One. While prior research has investigated the relationship between moral values and environmental attitudes, this work extends this investigation to intentionality with respect to changes in environmental behavior.

Functional textiles clean pollutants from air and water

Via Cornell University.

A stark and troubling reality helped spur Juan Hinestroza to what he hopes is an important discovery and a step toward cleaner manufacturing.

Hinestroza, associate professor of fiber science and director of undergraduate studies in the College of Human Ecology, has been to several manufacturing facilities around the globe, and he says that there are some areas of the planet in which he could identify what color is in fashion in New York or Paris by simply looking at the color of a nearby river.

“I saw it with my own eyes; it’s very sad,” he said.

Some of these overseas facilities are dumping waste products from textile dying and other processes directly into the air and waterways, making no attempt to mitigate their product’s effect on the environment.

“There are companies that make a great effort to make things in a clean and responsible manner,” he said, “but there are others that don’t.”

Hinestroza is hopeful that a technique developed at Cornell in conjunction with former Cornell chemistry professor Will Dichtel will help industry clean up its act. The group has shown the ability to infuse cotton with a beta-cyclodextrin (BCD) polymer, which acts as a filtration device that works in both water and air.

Their work is detailed in a paper, “Cotton Fabric Functionalized with a β-Cyclodextrin Polymer Captures Organic Pollutants from Contaminated Air and Water,” published online Oct. 24 in Chemistry of Materials, an American Chemical Society journal.

First author Diego Alzate-Sánchez and Dichtel are now at Northwestern University. Other contributors are former postdoctoral researchers Brian J. Smith (now an assistant professor at Bucknell) and Alaaeddin Alsbaiee (now at Arkema Inc.).

Cotton fabric was functionalized by making it a participant in the polymerization process. The addition of the fiber to the reaction resulted in a unique polymer grafted to the cotton surface.

“One of the limitations of some super-absorbents is that you need to be able to put them into a substrate that can be easily manufactured,” Hinestroza said. “Fibers are perfect for that – fibers are everywhere.”

Scanning electron microscopy showed that the cotton fibers appeared unchanged after the polymerization reaction. And when tested for uptake of pollutants in water (bisphenol A) and air (styrene), the polymerized fibers showed orders of magnitude greater uptakes than that of untreated cotton fabric or commercial absorbents.

Hinestroza pointed to several positives that should make this functionalized fabric technology attractive to industry.

“We’re compatible with existing textile machinery – you wouldn’t have to do a lot of retooling,” he said. “It works on both air and water, and we proved that we can remove the compounds and reuse the fiber over and over again.”

Hinestroza said the adsorption potential of this patent-pending technique could extend to other materials, and be used for respirator masks and filtration media, explosive detection and even food packaging that would detect when the product has gone bad.

And, of course, he hopes it can play a role in a cleaner, more environmentally responsible industrial practices.

“There’s a lot of pollution generation in the manufacture of textiles,” he said. “It’s just fair that we should maybe use the same textiles to clean the mess that we make.”

This research – an offshoot of work done last year at Cornell by Dichtel and his group, which included Alsbaiee and Smith – was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, and made use of the Cornell Center for Materials Research Shared Facilities, which is supported by the NSF’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers program.