This webinar will be highlighting the pollution prevention best practices that Clayton Savannah and Mastermelt America have achieved while manufacturing homes and processing precious metals. We will be learning specifically about how these two facilities are using innovative materials management efforts to reduce waste.
Following years of discussion, administrative rulemaking, and multi-state litigation, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Army Corps of Engineers (“ACOE”) have published a new regulatory definition of waters of the United States (“WOTUS”). On April 21, 2020, the EPA published a revised definition of WOTUS, dubbed the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” (“2020 Rule”), in the Federal Register, 85 Fed Reg 22,250. The 2020 Rule represents the final version of the 2018 draft rule published on December 11, 2018. Now in its final form, the 2020 Rule went into effect nationwide on June 22, 2020, but a number of states and other local jurisdictions, as well as environmental and agriculture groups, have already filed suit seeking to challenge the 2020 Rule.
Ecolab is a 97-year-old company that provides consulting services and solutions on water, hygiene, and infection prevention to the food, healthcare, hospitality and industrial markets. In a bid to show its leadership over the next decade, the company recently launched its 2030 Impact Goals for streamlining both its own operations and how it will approach its work with customers.
For its customer-driven work, Ecolab aims to help the industries with which it works by conserving 300 billion gallons of water annually while helping its customers become carbon neutral by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 4.5 million metric tons.
When looking at its customer base, the company will face many challenges in executing this strategy over the next 10 years. The hospitality industry, in particular, has an uneven success rate in meeting sustainability goals. But Ecolab, with its presence at 3 million commercial locations, is primed to meet and even exceed these goals.
When organizations take a stand against actions to combat climate change, they get more news coverage than their pro-climate action peers, according to a new study by a Brown University researcher.
Rachel Wetts, an assistant professor in Brown’s sociology department affiliated with the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, analyzed nearly three decades of climate change-related press releases and national news articles. Approximately 14% of press releases opposing climate action or denying the science behind climate change received major national news coverage, she found, compared to about 7% of press releases with pro-climate action messages.
Wetts’ findings could help explain why Americans seem less concerned about the looming threat of climate change than their peers in other Western countries, she said, and why climate change policymaking in the U.S. is so often stalled.
Associated journal article: Wetts, Rachel (2020). “In climate news, statements from large businesses and opponents of climate action receive heightened visibility.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1921526117
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a final rule to reduce lead in plumbing materials used in public water systems, homes, schools and other facilities. This action marks a significant milestone in implementing the Trump Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts. Along with other actions taken by EPA and our federal, state and local partners, this final rule will help protect public health—especially children’s health—from the risks associated with lead exposure.
The Lead-Free final rule significantly limits the lead content allowed in plumbing materials (e.g., pipes, fittings, and fixtures) used in new construction and replacement of existing plumbing. Specifically, the new rule reduces the percentage of lead content allowed in these materials from eight percent to 0.25 percent in accordance with the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. The final rule also requires that manufacturers or importers certify that their products meet the requirements using a consistent verification process. As a result, this new rule will reduce lead in drinking water and assure that states, manufacturers, inspectors and consumers have a common understanding of “Lead Free” plumbing.
EPA is also announcing that it has sent the final Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to the Office of Management and Budget. This will be the first major update to the LCR in nearly three decades. On October 10, 2019, EPA proposed a proactive and holistic approach to improving the current LCR — from testing to treatment to replacing lead service lines to telling the public about the levels and risks of lead in drinking water. These improvements would further reduce lead in drinking water and help assure that water is less corrosive to older, lead containing plumbing materials.
The Lead-Free final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and the certification requirement must be implemented within three years.
October 2019– EPA signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides a framework for a coordinated approach between more than a dozen critical partners across the federal government, tribes, water utilities and the public health community.
October 2019 – EPA announced 117 federal enforcement actions completed over the last year to ensure entities like renovation contractors, landlords and property managers are in compliance with regulations that require them to protect communities and the public from exposures to lead.
April 2019 – EPA announced the initial availability of grant funding to assist states, tribes, and territories with improving drinking water. States, tribes, and territories are eligible to receive funding from EPA drinking water grant programs established by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN): Under EPA’s Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care grant program, EPA awarded $43.7 million in grants in 2018-2019 and will be awarding $26 million in new funding in 2020 to fund testing for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs. Testing results carried out using grant funds must be made publicly available. Under EPA’s Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities grant program, EPA awarded $42.8 million in grants to support underserved communities with bringing public drinking water systems into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Funding can also be used for conducting household water quality testing, including testing for unregulated contaminants. Under EPA’s Reduction in Lead Exposure [through Infrastructure Improvements in Drinking Water Systems and in Schools and Child Care Facilities] grant program, EPA is making available $39.9 million to assist disadvantaged communities with removing sources of lead in drinking water from drinking water systems and schools.
December 2018– EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan unveiled the Trump Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts (Lead Action Plan). Developed through cross-governmental collaboration of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, which includes 17 federal departments and offices, the Lead Action Plan is a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms by working with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents.
Moral panics emerge when people perceive an existential threat to themselves, society or the environment. When in the grip of a moral panic, the ability to think clearly and act responsibly is compromised. While the moral panic over cats arises from valid concerns over threats to native species, it obscures the real driver: humanity’s exploitative treatment of the natural world. Crucially, errors of scientific reasoning also underwrite this false crisis.
The (shaky) case against cats
Conservationists and the media often claim that cats are a main contributor to a mass extinction, a catastrophic loss of species due to human activities, like habitat degradation and the killing of wildlife.
As an interdisciplinary team of scientists and ethicists studying animals in conservation, we examined this claim and found it wanting. It is true that like any other predator, cats can suppress the populations of their prey. Yet the extent of this effect is ecologically complex.
In our most recent publication in the journal Conservation Biology, we examine an error of reasoning that props up the moral panic over cats.
Scientists do not simply collect data and analyze the results. They also establish a logical argument to explain what they observe. Thus, the reasoning behind a factual claim is equally important to the observations used to make that claim. And it is this reasoning about cats where claims about their threat to global biodiversity founder. In our analysis, we found it happens because many scientists take specific, local studies and overgeneralize those findings to the world at large.
Even when specific studies are good overall, projecting the combined “results” onto the world at large can cause unscientific overgeneralizations, particularly when ecological context is ignored. It is akin to pulling a quote out of context and then assuming you understand its meaning.
So how might citizens and scientists chart a way forward to a more nuanced understanding of cat ecology and conservation?
First, those examining this issue on all sides can acknowledge that both the well-being of cats and the survival of threatened species are legitimate concerns.
Second, cats, like any other predator, affect their ecological communities. Whether that impact is good or bad is a complex value judgment, not a scientific fact.
Third, there is a need for a more rigorous approach to the study of cats. Such an approach must be mindful of the importance of ecological context and avoid the pitfalls of faulty reasoning. It also means resisting the siren call of a silver (lethal) bullet.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Yet there are many options to consider. Protecting apex predators and their habitat is fundamental to enabling threatened species to coexist with cats. In some cases, people may choose to segregate domestic cats from vulnerable wildlife: for instance, with catios where cats can enjoy the outdoors while being kept apart from wildlife. In other cases, unhomed cats may be managed with trap-neuter-return programs and sanctuaries.
Finally, contrary to the framing of some scientists and journalists, the dispute over cats is not primarily about the science. Rather, it evokes an ongoing debate over the ethics that ought to guide humanity’s relationship with other animals and nature.
This is the root of the moral panic over cats: the struggle to move beyond treating other beings with domination and control, toward fostering a relationship rooted in compassion and justice.
Joann Lindenmayer, DVM, MPH is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University and contributed to this article.