Day: May 24, 2019

How is climate change affecting fishes? There are clues inside their ears

Read the full story at The Conversation.

Climate change affects all life on Earth, but it poses unique challenges for aquatic species. For example, as water warms it holds less dissolved oxygen than cooler water. As a result, the world’s oceans, coastal seas, estuaries, rivers and lakes are undergoing a process known as “deoxygenation.”

When dissolved oxygen levels fall to about 2 milligrams per liter – compared to a normal range of roughly 5 to 10 mg/L – many aquatic organisms become severely stressed. Scientists call this low oxygen threshold “hypoxia.”

Globally fisheries generate US$362 billion annually. Scientists are already forecasting loss of fish biomass due to warming water. But can we measure effects on fish directly?

For some climate change impacts, the answer is yes. Increasingly, a window on the secret lives of fishes is opening up through study of tiny, calcified formations inside fish skulls called otoliths – literally, “ear-stones.”

Designing the Butterfly-Friendly City

Read the full story in CityLab.

With the population of the distinctive species in decline, cities around the U.S. are trying to add monarch-friendly spaces.

EPA Seeks Public Input on Draft Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public input on a draft study that takes a holistic look at how the agency, states, tribes and others view the current state of regulation and management of wastewater from the oil and gas industry and provides insight into how this wastewater might be returned to beneficial use in the water cycle.

“EPA’s draft study leverages the expertise of states, industry, and others in determining the opportunities and challenges surrounding the beneficial reuse of wastewater from the oil and gas sector,” said EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator David Ross.“EPA looks forward to continued public engagement regarding practical, environmentally-sound approaches to encouraging greater reuse and more holistic management of this water.”

“In an arid state like Utah, no potential source of water can be ignored,” said Utah Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Alan Matheson. “We appreciate the valuable information EPA has compiled in this study and commit to work with EPA, states, and stakeholders to address the water quantity and quality challenges associated with produced water.”

“Wyoming has long recognized the importance of beneficial reuse of produced water from the oil and gas sector through implementation of sound practices that are protective of water quality standards,” said Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WY DEQ) Director Todd Parfitt. “In particular, beneficial reuse of produced water provides significant benefit to wildlife, agriculture, and riparian habitat. WY DEQ looks forward to working with EPA and states in assessing and evaluating options for all produced water management opportunities.”

In May 2018, EPA announced the initiation of a Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management. The agency conducted a robust outreach effort to gather input from state, tribal, industrial, academic, environmental, public health and other entities for the study. This included meeting with individual entities, accepting written input through a public docket on regulations.gov, and hosting a national public meeting in October 2018 to report on what EPA had learned to date and to provide stakeholders an additional opportunity to provide input.

The draft Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management was developed using the feedback the agency received from these engagements and comments submitted to the public docket.

Many entities expressed support for increasing opportunities for discharge of oil and gas extraction wastewater to surface waters—especially where these wastewaters could address critical water resource needs. Some entities expressed concern that discharges to surface waters may, at least at this time, potentially impact the environment.

EPA will accept input on the draft study until July 1, 2019. Interested parties may email their input to oil-and-gas-study@epa.gov. After consideration of the feedback received, the agency will finalize the study in summer 2019. EPA will determine at that time what, if any, future agency actions are appropriate to encourage the beneficial reuse of oil and gas extraction wastewater under the Clean Water Act; this could include regulatory and/or non-regulatory approaches.

For more information on the draft study, visit EPA’s website at: www.epa.gov/eg/study-oil-and-gas-extraction-wastewater-management

Background
Large volumes of wastewater are generated from both conventional and unconventional oil and gas extraction at onshore facilities and projections show that these volumes will likely increase significantly with expanded production activity and enhanced drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques. Currently, most of this wastewater is managed by disposing of it using a practice known as deep underground injection, where that water can no longer be accessed or used. The limits of injection are evident in some areas and new approaches are becoming necessary. Some states and stakeholders have questioned whether it makes sense to continue to waste this water, particularly in water scarce areas of the country, and what steps would be necessary to treat and renew it for other purposes.

Leading U.S. Corporations on the Cusp of Achieving 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goals

Read the full story in Solar Magazine.

Corporations have become major drivers of solar and renewable energy growth in the U.S. over the course of recent years. Along with a growing number of U.S. towns, cities and states, major corporations are setting 100% renewable or zero-carbon energy goals. Some already are poised to achieve them.

What Happens When Hotels Pledge to Reduce Plastics?

Read the full story at Skift.

Hoteliers are increasingly aware that their plastic waste contributes to an enormous environmental problem, and there’s an obvious first step to take: Promise to do better.

A hotel can simply set its own goals and issue a press release, or it can join some type of larger coalition, commitment, alliance, or pledge that includes other companies. Among the simplest and most common elements of such a pledge are eliminating plastic straws and water bottles, referred to as “low-hanging fruit” by Dianna Cohen, CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition. On the more difficult end of the spectrum is reducing back-of-house plastics that come in from suppliers.

Such steps are addressed in pledges like the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, launched in 2018 by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment. This is among the broadest such efforts with signatories encompassing 20 percent of all plastic packaging produced globally.

A Global Perspective on All Things Waste and Recycling: A Conversation with Adam Minter

Read the full story at Waste360.

In our sixth episode of Waste360’s NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Adam Minter, author of “Junkyard Planet” and a journalist at Bloomberg. We spoke with him about waste trends and challenges in Asia, what’s on the horizon for e-waste, the language of recycling and more.

Make eco-friendly confetti out of plants

Read the full story at Treehugger.

Because plastic-based glitter and confetti take 1000 years to break down.

Exactly how much has global warming exacerbated global inequality?

Read the full story at Pacific Standard.

A chat with one of the authors of a recent study reporting that global warming has slowed the economic progress of warm countries.

Carrefour and TerraCycle launch ‘Loop’ test in Paris to tackle waste

Read the full story at Reuters.

French retailer Carrefour and U.S. waste recycling company TerraCycle launched on Tuesday the test for their ‘Loop’ initiative which they hope will tackle the problems of plastic waste threatening to destroy the environment.

Energy-intensive cannabis industry to boost demand on electric grid in Michigan

Read the full story in Crain’s Detroit Business.

Michigan has decriminalized the use of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, establishing statutory and regulatory regimes for its growth, processing and distribution. Forbes estimates that Michigan represents a $1.4 billion to $1.7 billion market, which is just at its beginning stages. Growing and processing cannabis are energy intensive activities — particularly indoor growing — and we are just about to find out how that new load will affect our electric grid.

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