There are bigger problems than PFAS, group for clean water says as Senate attempts regulation

Read the full story at Legal NewsLine.

Last week, a U.S. Senate committee strengthened one of the many bills that attempt to regulate chemicals known as PFAS, as critics continue to fight the idea that enough is known about them to pass legislation.

Wednesday, the Environment and Public Works Committee amended legislation proposed by West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito that would require the EPA to make certain moves regarding PFAS.

The EPA has decided more research is needed before it passes a threshold for PFAS, which are chemicals that were used in products like waterproof clothing, non-stick cookware and firefighting foam. They have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because they don’t leave the human body once they make it in, and some science suggests links to several illnesses.

But that research is disputed. And whatever problem there might be isn’t a priority, according to the American Water Works Association.

How Georgia Became A Surprising Bright Spot In The U.S. Solar Industry

Read the full story from NPR.

In northern Georgia, near the Tennessee line, the city of Dalton made its fame as the carpet capital of the world. These days, a more accurate title would be floor covering capital of the world. It has diversified into hardwood, tile, laminate and other materials.

And in a big move last year, Dalton added a new industry to its manufacturing mix: the largest solar panel assembly plant in the Western hemisphere, a $150 million investment.

This is just one sign that in Georgia, solar is booming.

And it’s not for the reasons you might expect. Like most states in the Southeast, Georgia doesn’t have the kind of state-level mandates that have propelled the growth of renewable energy in other parts of the country. Nor is it because of a groundswell of public concern over climate change or the need to curb greenhouse gases.

Instead, there are powerful market forces at work.

Unions, enviro groups collaborate on net-zero emissions plan

Read the full story at E&E News.

A coalition of unions and environmental groups unveiled a worker-friendly plan today for getting the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050, another sign of labor looking to play a role in the climate policy debate amid Green New Deal fervor and 2020 presidential politics.

The BlueGreen Alliance’s “Solidarity for Climate Action” plan stresses investments in the public sector and a revival of American manufacturing as the country’s energy sector transitions, with a special emphasis on union jobs and workforce training programs.

EERE Helps American Small Businesses with $21.6 Million for Phase I Innovation Projects

American small businesses got nearly a $22 million boost from the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. As part of today’s announcement, small businesses are receiving Phase I Release 2 grants that demonstrate technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research. Most Phase I awards are for $200,000 for less than one year.

Nine EERE technology offices will fund 109 awards under 12 topics – one for each office (Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), Bioenergy Technologies Office, Building Technologies Office, Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO), Geothermal Technologies Office (GTO), Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), Vehicle Technologies Office, Water Power Technologies Office and the Wind Energy Technologies Office), as well as three joint office topics (AMO with FCTO, AMO with GTO, and AMO with SETO). Highlights of the award selections include:

  • Secmation of Raleigh, NC will develop an intuitive interface that supports both traditional wired and new wireless technologies to enhance the cybersecurity of manufacturing equipment.
  • SusMer, Inc. of Fort Collins, CO will develop next-generation bio-based packaging materials that avoid severe plastic pollution and enormous materials’ energy and value loss because they are designed for a circular plastics economy where all outputs can become inputs to other products.
  • Glint Photonics, Inc. of Burlingame, CA will create nanoscale structures that mimic antireflective moth eyes to increase lighting fixture efficiency and reduce glare by up to 12 percent.
  • GreenBlu, Inc. of Hamilton, NJ is researching technologies based at geothermal sites to meet the global need for desalinated water using low cost thermal energy, while eliminating toxic brine discharge, and also recovering valuable minerals.
  • FarmAfield Labs of Lincoln, NE will research integration of solar photovoltaic systems with livestock production.
  • Nanosonic of Pembroke, VA and Pennsylvania State University of State College, PA will research material composition of ground-breaking perovskite solar cells to reduce the cost of manufacturing them.
  • TexPower of Austin, TX will research Lithium-Ion technologies that extend battery life while reducing use of costly imported materials for vehicle applications.
  • Carbon Rivers LLC of Knoxville, TN will research an innovative, energy-saving process to repurpose waste from end-of-life wind turbine blades.
  • Ocean Renewable Power Company, of Portland, ME will research a community-scale tidal power/ energy storage system using data from False Pass, AK to develop a microgrid system including both battery and pumped hydropower storage.
  • NuMat Technologies (NuMat) of Skokie, IL will determine if innovative, high-efficiency filters can be used to remove impurities from hydrogen gas streams.

Small businesses play a major role in spurring innovation and creating jobs in the U.S. economy. The SBIR and STTR programs were created by Congress to leverage small businesses to advance innovation at federal agencies. Information on the DOE SBIR and STTR programs is available on the Office of Science SBIR website. Additional information can be found on the EERE SBIR/STTR websiteas well. Contact us with feedback or ideas for future topics. DOE developed Technology Transfer Opportunity subtopics as a way for small businesses to partner with national laboratories on research and development needed to speed commercialization of national laboratory inventions.

Climate change visualized: How Earth’s temperature has changed since 1970

Read the full story in Axios.

2018 was Earth’s 4th-warmest year on record, coming in behind 2016, the planet’s warmest recorded year, as well as 2015 and 2017, according to information released by NOAA, NASA and the U.K. Met Office.

Unpaid work and access to science professions

Fournier AMV, Holford AJ, Bond AL, Leighton MA (2019). “Unpaid work and access to science professions.” PLoS ONE 14(6): e0217032.

Abstract: Unpaid work in the sciences is advocated as an entry route into scientific careers. We compared the success of UK science graduates who took paid or unpaid work six-months after graduation in obtaining a high salary or working in a STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) field 3.5 years later. Initially taking unpaid work was associated with lower earnings and lower persistence in STEM compared with paid work, but those using personal connections to obtain unpaid positions were as likely to persist in STEM as paid workers. Obtaining a position in STEM six months after graduation was associated with higher rates of persistence in STEM compared with a position outside STEM for both paid and unpaid workers, but the difference is considerably smaller for unpaid workers. Socio-economic inequality in the likelihood of obtaining entry in STEM by taking an unpaid position is a well-founded concern for scientific workforce diversity.

To Stop Destruction of Liberia’s Rainforest, He Put His Life on the Line

Read the full story at e360.

Alfred Brownell had to flee Liberia after challenging the powerful palm oil and other extractive industries that were clearing its forests. But he remains committed to seeing that the West African nation’s biodiverse lands be developed sustainably and the rights of its indigenous peoples respected.

The Atlas of Common Freshwater Macroinvertebrates of Eastern North America

This site is an online collection of 150 specimens representing nine orders of benthic macroinvertebrates.

The collection is organized into order-level, family-level, and genus-level (specimen) pages.

Click on any order on the home page to go to the order page for that order. To navigate from one order page to another, click the the down arrow next to the words “ORDER” in the top left. Clicking on the box around the specimens in a family will take you to the family page, and clicking on a specimen itself will take you to the genus-level page for that specimen. To return to the family- or order-level page, click the name of the order or family. To navigate to a different order or family page, you can click the down arrow next to the words “ORDER” or “FAMILY” at the top of the page.

To view a simplified version of the home page using illustrations instead of images, navigate to “Insect Orders” under the main menu in the upper left corner. To view the full collection and navigate directly to any specimen, click “Full Collection” in the main menu and select either “Image View” (shows all images in the collection) or “Taxa List” (allows you to navigate by scientific name).

The atlas is part of a three-year, interdisciplinary research and development effort to create an innovative new kind of teaching and learning resource for aquatic insect identification to support citizen science identification activities. This project brings together expertise in entomology, learning sciences, software engineering, water quality biomonitoring, and design. This National Science Foundation supported project brings together expertise in entomology, learning sciences, software engineering, water quality biomonitoring, and design.

Partner institutions include Carnegie-Mellon University, Clemson University, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Research: Actually, Consumers Do Buy Sustainable Products

Read the full story in the Harvard Business Review.

For years, brand managers have groused that while consumers say they intend to buy sustainable products, in store they don’t actually purchase them. This conventional wisdom has been used by many brands as justification for not making their products more sustainable.

NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business just completed extensive research into U.S. consumers’ actual purchasing of consumer packaged goods (CPG), using data contributed by IRI, and found that 50% of CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products. IRI’s data comes from bar scan codes at retail checkout in food, drug, dollar, and mass merchandisers. We examined over 36 categories and more than 71,000 SKUs, which accounted for 40% of CPG dollar sales over the five-year period.

Everything you need to know about the booming business of fighting food waste

Read the full story in Fast Company.

A new wave of companies is figuring out how to make new products from food that used to end up in the trash, from pulp popsicles to beer bread. Here are 20 to watch.