Day: May 16, 2019

How Samsung is Tackling the Global E-waste Problem

Read the full story at Waste360.

Mark Newton, director of corporate environmental affairs at Samsung, discusses the company’s e-waste reduction goals and milestones.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2.0°C—A unique and necessary role for health professionals

A new PLOS editorial makes the case that this moment is one of extraordinary consequence. Actions taken by all nations over the next decade will determine whether global health will continue to improve or whether it will instead decline—possibly catastrophically so—as a result of climate change.

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2020 Interior-Environment Funding Bill

Read the full story from the House Appropriations Committee. The Washington Post’s Energy 202 breaks down the items of interest to ENB readers.

  • EPA: The proposal includes a marked increase for the agency for the 2020 fiscal year, up to about $9.5 billion from the current $8.8 billion.
  • Great Lakes: The legislation also calls for $305 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Just a day before, the president sent congressional leaders a letter to amend his 2020 budget request to include additional funding for Great Lakes restoration and for the Everglades. Trump’s initial budget proposal included a 90 percent cut to that initiative but during a Michigan rally in March, the president reversed his stance and vowed to fully fund the program.
  • Superfund: Another bump would go to the toxic sites cleanup program, which would receive $1.21 billion, up $55 million from the current spending level and up $169 million from the White House proposal.
  • PFAS: There’s also $18 million included in the proposed EPA budget to research chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
  • Clean energy: The proposed funding for energy and water programs includes an 11 percent increases for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and also boosts by about 16 percent or $59 million the budget for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
  • Public lands: Finally, the House proposal included new funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a popular program that helps expand parks and other public areas.

 

DOE Announces $79 Million for Bioenergy Research and Development

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced over $79 million in funding for bioenergy research and development including biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. This funding supports DOE’s goal of providing consumers and businesses with a range of domestic energy options that are affordable, reliable, and secure.

“At DOE, we are focused on expanding America’s energy supply, growing the economy, and enhancing energy security, which will all be furthered by the significant advancements made in bioenergy technologies,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “The funding opportunities announced today will help ensure our nation’s competitive advantage in the emerging bioeconomy and allow us to continue to offer U.S. consumers and businesses more homegrown energy choices.”

The FOA topics will advance DOE’s Bioenergy Technology Office’s (BETO) objectives to reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower, and enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources. Topics areas for this funding opportunity include the following:

  1. Cultivation Intensification Processes for Algae: Develop technologies for outdoor algae systems that increase the harvest yield, reliability and quality of algae.
  2. Biomass Component Variability and Feedstock Conversion Interface: Research to lower the cost and improve the reliability of biomass handling and preprocessing.
  3. Efficient Wood Heaters: Develop technologies to reduce emissions and increase efficiency of wood heaters for residential heating.
  4. Systems Research of Hydrocarbon Biofuel Technologies: Integrate new technologies and processes in experimental prototype systems to improve and verify real-world performance and lower the cost of drop-in biofuels.
  5. Optimization of Biomass-Derived Jet Fuel Blends: Identify and develop cost-competitive drop-in renewable jet fuel with improved energy density and lower particulate matter emissions.
  6. Renewable Energy from Urban and Suburban Wastes: Support academic research and educational programs that focus on strategies to produce bioenergy and bioproducts from urban and suburban waste feedstocks.
  7. Advanced Bioprocessing and Agile BioFoundry: Reduce the time and cost of developing biological processes for biomanufacturing fuels and products through the use of synthetic biology, low capital intensity methods, and continuous production systems.
  8. Plastics in the Circular Carbon Economy: Develop biobased plastics with improved performance and recyclability and lower the cost and energy-intensity of recycling  existing plastics through enhanced degradation.
  9. Rethinking Anaerobic Digestion: Develop anaerobic processes or alternative strategies to enhance carbon conversion efficiency and lower costs of smaller scale wet waste systems.
  10. Reducing Water, Energy, and Emissions in Bioenergy: Identify biofuels or bioproducts technologies with the greatest potential for reducing water consumption, energy consumption, and/or emissions relative to existing conventional fuels or products.

This FOA also supports the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. In particular, this funding will support research and development focused on anaerobic digestion, a technology that can help achieve the Grand Challenge’s goal to double resource recovery from municipal wastewater.

The deadline for concept papers is June 3, 2019.For more information, read the full FOA on the EERE Exchange website

Recyclers request government mandates for recycled plastic content in bags

Read the full story in Waste Dive.

More than a dozen recycling businesses and advocacy groups have signed a letter urging the Canadian federal and provincial governments to adopt recycled content mandates or procurement policies for plastic bags. EFS-plastics spearheaded the effort, with signatories including Sims Municipal Recycling, GDB International, FirstStar Recycling, More Recycling, Reterra and Revolution Plastics.

The signatories want government legislation requiring the minimum recycled content in garbage bags to reach 10% by 2020, 15% by 2022 and 20% by 2024. They are advocating for minimum recycled content in plastic carryout bags to reach 10% by 2021, 15% by 2023 and 20% by 2025. The recommendations specifically encourage the use of “post-consumer” recycled plastic content.

The letter notes that “[w]hile high-value commodities like cardboard or water bottles can still be sold domestically, lower-value commodities like plastic bags are at the greatest risk of being landfilled or incinerated.” Preliminary analysis from More Recycling indicates 300,000 tons of plastic bags collected for recycling in North America last year may have been disposed due to lack of markets.

Green groups request hearing over energy efficiency testing rule

Read the full story in The Hill.

A coalition of green groups, a utility, and consumer advocates are pushing the Department of Energy to hold a hearing on a proposal that would give manufacturers more power to determine the efficiency level of their appliances.

Improvements to New Chemicals Website Increase Transparency

EPA has updated its new chemicals statistics webpage to make it easier to find and understand how many chemicals are in each stage of the new chemical review process. The page now includes a flow chart showing the number of new chemicals cases (PMNs, SNUNs and MCANs) at each stage of review and detailed descriptions of each step in the process.

These changes are the first step in a larger effort to increase the transparency of the new chemicals program and ensure stakeholders and the public can quickly and easily view EPA’s progress in reviewing new chemicals submissions as the Agency receives them.

For more information visit: https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/statistics-new-chemicals-review.

Illinois Solar for All Program Launches

The Illinois Solar for All Program has officially opened for business. The goal of the program is to promote new solar projects serving low-income and environmental justice communities throughout Illinois. A key part of the program involves solar developers working with job training programs to expand the renewable energy workforce by including individuals who are or were foster children or persons with a record who are transitioning.

The program was created as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which was passed by the Illinois legislature in December 2016 to increase solar energy jobs and renewable development projects across Illinois. Funding for the first two years of the program is  $30 million per year, which will be used to purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from new low-income solar projects.

The Illinois Power Agency is implementing the program. It has hired Chicago-based Elevate Energy as the program administrator. The Illinois Solar for All Program has a number of sub-programs for low-income and environmental justice communities, including rooftop solar, community solar projects, and solar projects for non-profits and public facilities located in and serving those communities.

“Illinois Solar for All brings unprecedented opportunities for communities on the frontlines of environmental harms and climate change consequences to lead just transition through adoption of renewable energy and its associated economic justice and cleaner air benefits,” said Juliana Pino, policy director at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. “Dozens of members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and Illinois Solar for All Working Group—from private solar companies to community leaders—worked diligently to create and support the program. Now, importantly, lower electric bills and career opportunities for persons with a record and foster care alumni will be prioritized where they are needed most.”

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center is proud to help establish one of the most comprehensive statewide programs in the country that drives solar development to low-income and environmental justice communities,” said MeLena Hessel, policy advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Job announcement: ISTC and ISWS seeking Associate Research Scientist, Emerging Contaminants

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the Illinois State Water Survey are seeking an Associate Research Scientist, Emerging Contaminants to plan, conduct, supervise, and formulate collaborations on research on inorganic and organic pollutants, especially focusing on emerging contaminants (e.g., pharmaceuticals and personal care products, per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals, agriculture chemicals (P and N), microplastics, and other contaminants including lead) and excessive nutrients in groundwater, surface water, and wastewater.

Application deadline is June 15, 2019.

Visit http://go.illinois.edu/istcjobs for more information and to apply.

Take-Aways from an Advisory Opinion by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: How Does a Human Rights Forum Give Guidance to Global Environmental Protection?

Read the full post at Green Law.

On February 8, 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the IA Court) issued a groundbreaking advisory opinion (2018 Opinion) in response to a request by Columbia recognizing the right to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right that protects current and future generations. The IA Court also noted that a country is obligated to prevent significant environmental damages both within and outside its borders, including damages caused by climate change. This is a precedent-setting opinion that may reshape the international landscape of climate litigation and cross-border environmental litigation.

The IA Court has advisory jurisdiction among all members of the Organization of American States (OAS). At the request of the OAS members, the IA Court issues advisory opinions to interpret the American Convention of Human Rights and other human rights instruments. Advisory opinions are binding on all states that have accepted the IA Court’s jurisdiction.[1]

The real-world effects of this February 8, 2018 advisory opinion, however, reach far beyond the Americas. In fact, for many decades human rights forums and domestic courts in various countries and continents have woven the IA Court’s judgments into their case law analysis, expanding the IA Court’s influence on environmental and human rights issues to a global level.

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