Day: January 24, 2018

Republicans on House science panel suggest top environmental health scientist broke antilobbying law

Read the full story in Science.

The chief of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in Durham, North Carolina, has gotten into hot water with Republicans on the House of Representatives science committee for writing an editorial urging citizens to advocate for environmental protection laws. NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum says she violated no ethics laws, however, and some legal experts agree.

In the editorial, published on 18 December 2017 in PLOS Biology, Birnbaum and a PLOS Biologyeditor summarize the articles appearing in a special issue on U.S. policies regulating chemicals. They end with the sentence: “Closing the gap between evidence and policy will require that engaged citizens, both scientists and nonscientists, work to ensure our government officials pass health-protective policies based on the best available scientific evidence.”

Americans interested in the environment are the most likely to feel civic obligation to follow science news

Read the full story from the Pew Research Center.

While there are many reasons that Americans get science news, the most common driver of attention to science news is curiosity, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center study. But people are also motivated to seek out science news for different reasons depending on the issues they care about most, with the environment being a prime example.

There Is Nothing Virtual About Bitcoin’s Energy Appetite

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Creating a new Bitcoin requires electricity. A lot of it.

In the virtual currency world this creation process is called “mining.” There is no physical digging, since Bitcoins are purely digital. But the computer power needed to create each digital token consumes at least as much electricity as the average American household burns through in two years, according to figures from Morgan Stanley and Alex de Vries, an economist who tracks energy use in the industry.

Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions

Read the full story from NPR.

This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that’s made primarily from vegetable oil. They’re doing it, though, not because it’s cheaper or better, but because they’re required to, by law.

The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it’s the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others — like many economists — it’s a wasteful misuse of resources.

And the most wasteful part of the RFS, according to some, is biodiesel. It’s different from ethanol, a fuel that’s made from corn and mixed into gasoline, also as required by the RFS. In fact, gasoline companies probably would use ethanol even if there were no law requiring it, because ethanol is a useful fuel additive — at least up to a point. That’s not true of biodiesel.

UCLA launches program to reduce impact of greenhouse gas emissions for air travel

Read the full story from UCLA.

UCLA has become one of the first universities in the country to establish a program to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from university business-related air travel by assessing a carbon mitigation fee for these flights. The pilot program will run from January 2018 through December 2020, with a $9 fee to be applied to each domestic round-trip and a $25 fee to be applied to each international round-trip.

New Database for Urban Mining in the EU Maps Valuable Resources in E-Waste and More

Read the full story at Electronics 360.

The Urban Mine Platform prevents the flows of precious and base metals, and critical raw materials in products in use and throughout their journey to the end of life.

This database reveals the number of valuable materials recovered or lost in the EU’s scrap vehicles, batteries, computers, phones or gadgets, applicants or other high tech products that are discarded annually, which is 18 million tons total, almost the weight of 3 million African elephants.

Disaster Resilience Saves Six Times as Much as It Costs

Read the full story in CityLab.

A new report from the National Institute of Building Sciences finds that for every dollar spent on federal grants aimed at improving disaster resilience, society saves six dollars. This return is higher than previously thought: A 2005 study by NIBS found that each dollar from these grants yielded four dollars in savings.

FEMA Turns Focus Towards Resiliency

Read the full story in the Engineering News-Record.

A newly released draft federal National Mitigation Investment Strategy stresses the nation must become more resilient through better agency coordination, stricter building codes and development of more natural features such as wetlands. The strategy, released Jan. 11, also emphasizes the importance of mitigation investments from private businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments. The plan, the first of its kind, was sparked by a Government Accountability Office report that recommended such a strategy be developed following Hurricane Sandy.

Parkland board approves contract for 8-acre solar farm

Read the full story in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.

Parkland College could have its own 8-acre solar farm by later this year.

The board of the community college Wednesday night approved a contract with SolSystems LLC of Washington, D.C., to build a 2-megawatt solar energy field on the northwest corner of the campus. The solar field in south Champaign operated by the University of Illinois provides about 4 megawatts of electricity when it is operating.

Trump Administration’s Solar Tariffs

Solar tariffs have been the big story this week. Below are links to some stories about their potential impact.

%d bloggers like this: