Month: March 2020

Trump Administration Weakens Auto Emissions Standards

Read the full story from NPR.

The Trump administration has finalized its rollback of a major Obama-era climate policy, weakening auto emissions standards in a move it says will mean cheaper cars for consumers.

Citing outbreak, EPA has stopped enforcing environmental laws

Read the full story from PBS Newshour.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday abruptly waived enforcement on a range of legally mandated public health and environmental protections, saying industries could have trouble complying with them during the coronavirus pandemic.

The oil and gas industry were among the industries that had sought an advance relaxation of environmental and public health enforcement during the outbreak, citing potential staffing problems. The EPA’s decision was sweeping, forgoing fines or other civil penalties for companies that failed to monitor, report or meet some other requirements for releasing hazardous pollutants.

IFT20 will go virtual because of coronavirus threat

Read the full story at Food Dive.

The Institute of Food Technologists is transitioning its annual event and food expo to a virtual experience, the group announced Monday night. IFT20 was scheduled for July 12-15 in Chicago.

In a video posted to IFT’s conference website, IFT Board President Pam Coleman said this decision was thought to be the safest course of action in light of continuing developments around the spread of COVID-19. The decision was made now to give food scientists, experts and exhibitors time to change their travel plans and shift gears.

“IFT’s board focused on a solution that provided an engaging, accessible and inclusive platform which will be able to convene our global community, enabling us to connect, to learn, to share knowledge and to advance the science of food and food innovation — a purpose that is more important today than ever before,” Coleman said in the video.

How innovation, technology and bright ideas are transforming the buildings we learn in

Read the full story from CNBC.

Around the world, an increasing number of school buildings and educational campuses are trying to become more sustainable. While technology can boost the energy efficiency of buildings, the way they are built can also be beneficial.

Pandas, slugs and ants hint at shortcut to greener biofuel

Read the full story from the Thompson Reuters Foundation.

Learning how some animals digest tough materials efficiently could lead to more climate-smart fuels, Danish researchers say

How to Help Scientists Without Leaving Home

Read the full story at Atlas Obscura.

The natural world doesn’t slow down just because humans have to. Outside, buds burst from branches; high, high above them, distant objects traverse the solar system. And while the world keeps going, science does, too. If you have a computer, a phone, and a window, you can help with these citizen science projects.

Let’s respond to coronavirus and climate change with car-free streets, bus and bike lanes

Read the full post at StreetsBlog Chicago.

I’m sure by now you have seen pictures of Chicago streets and expressways virtually devoid of cars. Looking at the streets without automobiles occupying them reveals just how much space we’ve given over this space- and energy-inefficient mode, which normally makes our city more dangerous, polluted, and congested. Some of us can hear the difference in traffic volume; we no longer hear a constant din of cars and their horns at various hours of the day.

I’m afraid some people will be unaware of this new quiet due to being preoccupied with the coronavirus. I’m afraid the ones who do notice the quiet will fail to realize we can experience quieter, safer, more efficient streets all the time. I’m more afraid our streets will go back to normal once it’s okay to return to everyday activities. The economic fallout of the Coronavirus is once again exposing the warts of late-stage capitalism. The mass panic-buying of food and household items that has left store shelves empty has shown us that selfishly looking out for one’s own interests is harmful. Similar parallels can be made with our transportation system. Why are we stalling on creating a transportation system that can work for us all and help us achieve our traffic safety and climate goals due to the complaints of those who are resistant to progressive change?

Energy efficiency employs at least 2.4 million Americans. Many of those jobs are now at risk.

Read the full story from ACEEE.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the economy, the energy sector was an engine for U.S. job growth. A new report today shows that energy efficiency produced the most new jobs within that sector — more than 54,000 last year alone — and directly supported at least 2.38 million jobs. Now that much of that work is suspended, restoring and increasing those jobs will be critical as U.S. policymakers consider ways to shore up the economy.

The annual report highlights what was the growing demand for workers to make and install energy-efficient products as well as build energy-saving vehicles, homes, and buildings. As a rising number of Americans file for unemployment because of COVID-19 impacts, contractors nationwide who install efficient products in homes are being furloughed, and factories that make electric cars and efficient products are shutting down.

Oregon DEQ calls for emphasis on ‘low-impact’ materials, not ‘recyclable’

Read the full story in Waste Dive.

As municipalities emphasize “zero waste” or sustainable resources, it’s important to advocate for the most impactful systemic changes, said David Allaway with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) during a recent Northeast Recycling Council webinar. That means looking for solutions upstream of the consumer at the point where brands and manufacturers choose climate-friendly materials.

Oregon DEQ and U.S. EPA research shows that just because a product is “recyclable” doesn’t mean the packaging uses less energy, emits fewer greenhouse gases or produces less waste.

According to Allaway, a senior policy analyst, it’s time to ask brands to design for “low-impact” instead of just asking consumers and brands to recycle. This means prioritizing material options that have the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, lowest energy use and overall most limited effects on the environment.

Inside Entertainment: COVID-19 has Great Lakes aquariums and museums offering online activities

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

While all sorts of entertainment and enrichment centers around the Great Lakes are closed in response to the coronavirus crisis, many of them are offering free online programs, activities and tours for the public to enjoy.

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