Ridding the oceans of plastics by turning the waste into valuable fuel

Read the full story at Phys.org.

Billions of pounds of plastic waste are littering the world’s oceans. Now, a Ph.D. organic chemist and a sailboat captain report that they are developing a process to reuse certain plastics, transforming them from worthless trash into a valuable diesel fuel with a small mobile reactor. They envision the technology could someday be implemented globally on land and possibly placed on boats to convert ocean waste plastic into fuel to power the vessels. The researchers will present their results today at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Energy Department climate office bans use of phrase ‘climate change’

Read the full story in Politico.

A supervisor at the Energy Department’s international climate office told staff this week not to use the phrases “climate change,” “emissions reduction” or “Paris Agreement” in written memos, briefings or other written communication, sources have told POLITICO.

Supreme Court won’t pause Obama water rule case

Read the full story in The Hill.

The Supreme Court will not pause a case concerning the Obama administration’s Clean Water Rule in a rebuke to the Trump administration.

The justices’ decision came on Monday with no explanation.

Strategy for Preventing the Wasting of Food

In March, Oregon DEQ finalized its much-anticipated strategic plan for the preventing of wasting of food. The plan outlines a framework to direct DEQ’s work over a five-year period to encourage reductions in the wasting of food across the supply chain to support Materials Management in Oregon: 2050 Vision and Framework for Action.  

Drawing on an eight-month long evaluation of the current landscape around preventing the wasting of food and an assessment of more than 80 potential projects, DEQ has identified nine projects that it believes will both “change the current conversation” around preventing the wasting of food and make significant, measurable contributions to the state’s waste reduction goals.

The first project is a major research effort into the causes, quantities and types of wasted food in Oregon. Other projects include the development of public information materials; engagement with commercial food service businesses; collaboration with the edible food donation and rescue community; supporting efforts to decrease public confusion around sell-by, use-by, and best-by date labels; and pilot projects in school kitchens.

The full strategy can be found here.

ISTC Sustainability Seminar: Roles of Nitrifiers in the Removal of Micropollutants during Wastewater Treatment Processes

April 13, 2017 , noon-1pm CST
In person at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (1 E. Hazelwood Dr., Champaign) or online at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6181978119009400067

Presented by Yujie Men – Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

There are emerging concerns about organic micropollutants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals and personal care products due to their potential adverse effects on environmental ecosystems and the public health. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are a major sink for down-the-drain chemicals and thus play a key role in their environmental fate. Strong associations have been observed between ammonia oxidization activities and the biotransformation of some micropollutants. However, whether there is a causal relationship between those two remains unclear. Batch scale pure culture and inhibition studies, as well as micropollutant removal investigation for a full scale enhanced nitrification step at local WWTPs have been applied to get a better understanding of roles played by ammonia oxidizers. Various types of evidence indicate essential involvement of nitrifying microorganisms in the biotransformation of certain micropollutants. For above half of the micropollutants investigated, the biotransformation of micropollutants in WWTPs achieved by heterotrophs or a combined contribution of heterotrophs and nitrifiers. The findings provide important insights into the persistency of different micropollutants during biological wastewater treatment processes.

Researchers track perfluorinated chemicals in the body

Read the full story from the University of Notre Dame.

They are the chemicals that made consumers think twice about using nonstick cookware. New research in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters shows scientists have developed a method to track perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in the body. PFAS are potentially toxic chemicals found in stain-resistant products, nonstick cookware, fire-fighting foams and — most recently — fast food wrappers.

Tackling resilience: Finding order in chaos to help buffer against climate change

Read the full story from the University of Washington.

“Resilience” is a buzzword often used in scientific literature to describe how animals, plants and landscapes can persist under climate change. It’s typically considered a good quality, suggesting that those with resilience can withstand or adapt as the climate continues to change.

But when it comes to actually figuring out what makes a species or an entire ecosystem resilient ? and how to promote that through restoration or management ? there is a lack of consensus in the scientific community.

A new paper by the University of Washington and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center aims to provide clarity among scientists, resource managers and planners on what ecological resilience means and how it can be achieved. The study, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first to examine the topic in the context of ecological restoration and identify ways that resilience can be measured and achieved at different scales.

​Forests fight global warming in ways more important than previously understood

Read the full story from Ohio State University.

Forests play a complex role in keeping the planet cool, one that goes far beyond the absorption of carbon dioxide, new research has found.

Trees also impact climate by regulating the exchange of water and energy between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere, an important influence that should be considered as policymakers contemplate efforts to conserve forested land, said the authors of an international study that appears in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Rivers Win in the Fight for Non-Human Rights

Read the full story at Pacific Standard.

Environmental advocates have a new strategy to protect natural resources: granting natural systems legal personhood.

House votes to restrict EPA’s use of science

Read the full story in The Hill.

The House voted Wednesday to restrict the kind of scientific studies and data that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can use to justify new regulations.

The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, passed 228-194. It would prohibit the EPA from writing any regulation that uses science that is not publicly available.