Month: April 2020

Webinar: States Lead on Climate

April 30, 2020, 11 am-noon CDT
Register here.

Join the conversation at #StatesLeadOnClimate on Twitter.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, as the Trump administration continues to push U.S. federal climate policy in precisely the wrong direction, America’s state and local governments have been rising to the challenge and taking meaningful action to address climate change and build a just and equitable clean energy economy. States continue to use significant authority over utility markets, infrastructure, and transportation systems to enact significant policies aimed at reducing carbon pollution. Many states are also designing policies that include the voices of low-income communities, workers, and communities of color—and many states are making investments in those communities most affected by climate change. This state leadership is laying a roadmap for federal lawmakers to use in achieving nationwide climate action.

Earlier this month, Virginia became the latest state to enact 100 percent clean energy legislation, joining the 14 other leading states and territories committed to a 100 percent clean energy by midcentury. This growing wave of state climate leadership is critical for reducing the carbon pollution that is fueling the climate crisis and ensuring that the communities most affected by climate change benefit in the transition to clean energy. It also demonstrates that bold climate action is possible and popular and shows the rest of the world that the majority of Americans remain committed to climate solutions.

Panelists will discuss the clean energy solutions and coalitions advancing progress in Virginia, Colorado, and Illinois, as well as the important lessons that both state and federal lawmakers can derive from this progress.

Please join the Center for American Progress, the League of Conservation Voters, and state leaders for an online event highlighting successful state leadership against the climate crisis—and what it means for future federal climate action.

We’d love to hear your questions. Please submit any questions you have for our panelists via email at CAPeventquestions@americanprogress.org or on Twitter using #StatesLeadOnClimate.

This event will be live captioned at americanprogress.org/livecaptioning.

How Michigan Reduced Industrial Discharges of PFAS

Read the full story from the Environmental Working Group.

At least 2,500 industrial facilities across the nation could be discharging the toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS into the air and water, according to an updated EWG analysis of government data. But one state has seen substantial drops in industrial PFAS discharges: Michigan. Now other states are learning from Michigan’s success. 

How did Michigan reduce PFAS releases from electroplaters, paper factories and other polluters? 

Sea Grant research addresses the growing crisis of PFAS exposure, finds PFAS in rainwater

Read the full story from Wisconsin Sea Grant.

A Wisconsin Sea Grant-funded project has helped improve the state’s capability to test for PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and led to the discovery of their widespread presence in rainwater across the country.

The project is led by Martin Shafer, senior scientist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and the and Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH). Shafer is also a principal researcher with the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP), the nation’s longest-running program for monitoring the chemistry of precipitation, which is housed at the WSLH.

Lawmakers push for inclusion of ‘forever chemical’ regulation in future stimulus bill

Read the full story in The Hill.

A group of more than 80 members of Congress is pushing for the inclusion of provisions to regulate a class of cancer-linked chemicals in future stimulus legislation dealing with infrastructure.

Toxic PFAS fallout found near incinerator in upstate New York

Read the full story in the Intercept.

Industrial chemicals known as PFAS have contaminated soil and water near an incinerator in upstate New York that has been burning firefighting foam. The facility is run by Norlite, whose parent company Tradebe contracted with the Department of Defense to burn the foam known as AFFF, as The Intercept reported in January 2019.

The analysis of three soil and four water samples collected near the Norlite incinerator in Cohoes, New York, which appears to be the first environmental testing done near an AFFF incineration site, revealed the presence of 10 PFAS compounds that have been associated with the foam. The levels of the chemicals in soil and water declined with distance from the plant, and measurements of PFOS, a compound that has been widely used in firefighting foam, were twice as high downwind from the facility than upwind of it, according to David Bond, a professor of environmental studies at Bennington College, who conducted the testing with some of his students.

General Mills launches ‘manufacture to donate’ program

Read the full story in Food Business News.

General Mills, Inc. recently announced a $5 million “manufacture to donate” initiative to address urgent hunger needs in the United States stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

EPA announces winners of the President’s Student-Teacher Environmental Awards in Illinois, Ohio and Indiana

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), has announced the recipients of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) and the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). In EPA Region 5, the PIAEE winners are a fifth-grade science teacher in Warren, Ohio, and an honorable mention for an elementary-school teacher in Mishawaka, Ind., and the PEYA winner is a high-school student in Minooka, Ill.

“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we are also celebrating nearly 50 years of environmental education that fosters awareness about conservation issues, and helps communities make informed, responsible decisions about their environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are also honoring dedicated educators who spark enthusiasm in our youth to develop a love and respect for the environment and find solutions for issues that impact our air, water and land.”

“I am proud of the award recipients for their actions to protect the environment and for teaching others to do the same,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede. “Inspiring others to appreciate the environment is essential to protecting our planet.”

“Every one of us can make a difference whether it be picking up trash, recycling, feeding the birds, planting a flower garden, or restoring a habitat,” said Dave Murduck, PIAEE winner from Champion Middle School in Warren, Ohio. “As the excited recipient of this award, I will continue to bring awareness about the environment to children as well as adults.”

Mr. Murdock’s accomplishments include initiating recycling programs within Champion Middle School, fostering “Green Weeks” school activities, taking students on sustainability trips around the country, starting a beekeeping club, and designing wetlands projects to restore flora and fauna after construction projects. By incorporating place-based learning strategies that expose students to experiential learning opportunities, his students practice math and other subjects while developing an understanding of the importance of stewardship and the environment. 

“I have the awesome opportunity in my profession to open the eyes and minds of young students to the differences they can make in the environment for the better,” said Shelly Sparrow, PIAEE award winner, honorable mention, a teacher at Twin Branch Elementary School in Mishawaka, Ind. “I want to fill their buckets with empowerment to identify and change things with a negative impact on our environment or continue their path and work toward a better future for all.”

Brayden Caraynoff-Huber, a high-school student in Minooka, Ill., participates in Ronald McDonald House Charities’ long-running Pop Tab program and in 2015 he launched Pop Tab Pandemonium with the help of local sponsors. This annual event gives the local community an opportunity to recycle their cans and have some fun. Brayden Caraynoff-Huber has gone beyond the idea of only recycling pop tabs to include aluminum can recycling more broadly. Through his efforts he has raised more than $20,000 for RHMC and recycled more than 15 tons of aluminum.

“One person, one tab, one aluminum can doesn’t seem like much, but put enough of them together and you can make a difference in the world,” said Brayden Caraynoff-Huber.

From across the country, 10 educators and 35 students are being recognized for their leadership and commitment to environmental education and environmental stewardship. This year, 7 educators will receive the 2020 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, and 3 educators will be recognized with an honorable mention distinction. Winning educators demonstrated leadership by integrating environmental education into multiple subjects and using topics such as healthy school environments, environmentally friendly agricultural practices, reducing ocean litter, gardening, recycling, or STEM to teach sustainability to K-12 students.

Additionally, 35 students who worked as a team or individually on 13 projects will receive the President’s Environmental Youth Award. Their stewardship projects, conducted in 2019, display a commitment to learning, to protecting natural resources, and to engaging their communities in environmental protection.

Background

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

Established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators seeks to recognize, support, and bring public attention to the outstanding environmental projects performed by innovative teachers who go beyond textbook instruction to incorporate methods and materials that utilize creative experiences and enrich student learning. CEQ, in partnership with EPA, administers this award to encourage and nationally honor outstanding elementary and secondary (K-12) education teachers who integrate environmental and place-based, experiential learning into school curricula. The program provides funding to help support educator awardee schools in their environmental education work and provides funding for the teacher’s professional development.

The President’s Environmental Youth Award

Since the establishment of the original Environmental Education Act of 1970, The President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) Program has recognized outstanding community-level environmental projects by K-12 youth for almost 50 years. Today, as part of the National Environmental Education Act of 1990, PEYA continues to promote awareness of natural resources and encourages positive community involvement.  Each year, PEYA honors a wide-variety of local-level projects developed by students, school classes, summer camp attendees and youth organizations to promote engagement in environmental stewardship and protection. Students in all 50 states and U.S. territories are invited to participate in the program.

EPA announces 2019 WasteWise National Award Winners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the 2019 winners of the national WasteWise awards. EPA is recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of 11 WasteWise partner organizations.

“As we begin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it is fitting to highlight these WasteWise partners for their dedication to waste reduction, environmental stewardship and sustainable materials management,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These efforts not only provide environmental and cost savings benefits, but they also increase the efficiency of these businesses and organizations positioning them for greater success.”

This year’s winners used innovative best practices and tailored efforts to help them prevent and reduce waste from going into landfills and incinerators, such as:

  • Converting excess materials into new products.
  • Providing specialized training for staff on waste prevention and diversion.
  • Recycling numerous materials including pallets, scrap metal, paper, cardboard boxes, automotive fluids and parts, styrofoam and plastic bags.
  • Composting on-site and returning grass clippings back onto lawns.

One of this year’s winners collected plastic stretch film that was then recycled into trash can liners, which the winner purchased for use on their campus, providing the feedstock and market for that material. Another winner worked with a vendor to convert over 200,000 pounds of unusable liquid soap product into a commercial floor cleaner, achieving source reduction, the highest level of the waste management hierarchy. 

WasteWise is one of EPA’s longest-running voluntary programs and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. EPA’s WasteWise program encourages organizations to achieve sustainability and to reduce waste. In 2018, our WasteWise partners, including today’s award winners, collectively reported preventing and diverting more than 1.9  million tons of municipal solid waste that would otherwise be disposed in landfills or incinerated, saving close to 100 million dollars in avoided landfill tipping fees. Of this amount, WasteWise partners reported preventing (also called source reducing) more than 890,000 tons of waste, meaning that no waste was created in the first place, EPA’s most preferred waste management method.

Every year EPA recognizes WasteWise partners in several categories who report the best overall improvement in waste prevention and recycling activities when compared to the previous year.

The 2019 national award winners are:

College/University

  • Partner of the Year: Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Local Government

  • Partner of the Year: City of Chesapeake Garage, Chesapeake, Virginia
  • Honorable Mention: Sand Creek Station Golf Course, Newton, Kansas

Tribal Government

  • Partner of the Year: Chumash Casino Resort, Santa Ynez, California

Non-profit Organization

  • Partner of the Year: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts

Small Business

  • Partner of the Year: Ravitz Family Markets, Price Rite Supermarkets, Inc., Camden, New Jersey
  • Honorable Mention: Home Market Foods, Norwood, Massachusetts

Large Business

  • Partner of the Year: Rooms to Go, Seffner, Florida
  • Honorable Mention: Peace Dining Corporation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Very Large Business

  • Partner of the Year: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
  • Honorable Mention: L Brands, Inc., Columbus, Ohio

More information about each winner’s efforts and results is available at: https://www.epa.gov/smm/wastewise#AwardsandAwardWinners

Background:

The WasteWise program is part of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management efforts that promote the use and reuse of materials more productively over their entire life cycles. All U.S. businesses, governments, academic institutions and non-profit organizations can join WasteWise as a partner, an endorser or both. Partners demonstrate how they reduce waste, practice environmental stewardship and incorporate sustainable materials management into their waste management practices. Endorsers promote enrollment in WasteWise as part of a comprehensive approach to help their stakeholders realize the economic benefits to reducing waste. For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/smm/wastewise

How atrazine regulations have influenced the environment

Read the full story from the American Society of Agronomy.

In recent years, atrazine use has been decreasing. However, despite the decrease in atrazine use, concentrations of the secondary compound, DEA, have been increasing.

Karen Ryberg and her team thought there must be more to this puzzle than just atrazine use. Ryberg, who works at the United States Geological Survey, wanted to determine the factors, other than usage, that influence trends in herbicide concentrations in streams.

After meeting with Trump, Medline wants FDA approval to sterilize N95 masks with ethylene oxide. Two other federal agencies are against it, citing cancer risks for health care workers.

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Summoned to the White House last month with other medical suppliers responding to the severe shortage of protective gear for health care workers, Medline Industries CEO Charlie Mills announced the company had good news.

Northfield-based Medline already was reprocessing 100,000 masks a day used by doctors and nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mills told President Donald Trump and others in the Cabinet Room.

Though masks typically are certified for one use only, Mills said, Medline could rapidly decontaminate used masks at its plant in north suburban Waukegan and send them back to hospitals and clinics across the nation. The company’s efforts would buy medical workers time while manufacturers increase production of new masks, he said.

“I think that is fantastic,” Trump said later the same day after Mills summarized his plan during the president’s March 29 appearance before the White House press corps.

What Mills failed to mention is Medline’s process relies on ethylene oxide, a germ-killing gas that researchers have found can damage the brain and raise the risk of breast cancer, leukemia and lymphomas at extremely low levels of exposure.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 3M, a leading mask manufacturer, strongly discourage the use of ethylene oxide for decontaminating masks, in particular N95 respirators needed by virus fighters. Last week the Occupational Safety and Health Administration concluded that giving health care personnel EtO-treated masks could be considered a violation of federal workplace standards.

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