Day: February 19, 2021

“PFAS Blueprint” In MN May Be Blueprint For Other States

Read the full story from the National Law Review.

On February 10, 2021, Minnesota announced its “PFAS Blueprint“, a 191 page aggressive plan with its stated goal being to “protect our communities and environment from [PFAS].” The detailed plan sets out a proposal to bolster regulations regarding PFAS through both legislation and agency rulemaking efforts. The PFAS Blueprint lays out ten priority areas of focus for PFAS, and supporting proposed legislative action to accomplish each priority. If carried out in full, or even in part, the impact of the regulations will be felt well beyond Minnesota, as other states that are more aggressively addressing PFAS issues will follow suit. The ripple effects on downstream commerce sectors, including waste management, water utilities, manufacturing and construction, will be enormous.

Hundreds of helpless cold-stunned sea turtles rescued by Navy pilots and pickup trucks

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Will Bellamy spotted two injured birds along the Texas coast earlier this week, and the self-described animal lover delivered them to conservationists for care. But the conservationists had a message themselves, he said: watch out for distressed sea turtles.

The deadly winter storm that swept across Texas and parts of the South knocked out power and water for millions. It also created a catastrophe for animals statewide — including for sea turtles prone to freezing in frigid waters.

DOE Announces $100 Million for Transformative Clean Energy Solutions

In support of the Biden Administration’s climate innovation agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $100 million in funding for transformative clean energy technology research and development via its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) OPEN 2021 funding opportunity. The first of billions of dollars of DOE R&D opportunities to be announced this year, this funding will help identify cutting-edge, disruptive clean energy technologies to address the climate crisis.

The Department will also participate in the National Climate Task Force’s Climate Innovation Working Group announced today by the White House. The working group will coordinate federal government-wide efforts to foster affordable, game-changing technologies that can help America achieve the President’s goal of net zero economy-wide emissions by 2050, and emphasize research to bolster and build domestic clean energy supply chains and strengthen American manufacturing.

“Today we are inviting scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers around America to join us in developing the energy technologies we need to tackle the climate crisis and build a more equitable clean energy economy,” said DOE Chief of Staff Tarak Shah. “The Department of Energy is committed to empowering innovators to develop bold solutions that will help America achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 while creating millions of good-paying jobs that benefit all Americans.”

Since its founding in 2009, ARPA-E has provided $2.4 billion in R&D funding, and ARPA-E projects have attracted more than $4.9 billion in private sector follow-on funding to commercialize clean energy technologies and create sustainable clean energy jobs. Previous ARPA-E awardees have also gone on to achieve breakthroughs in commercializing a variety of energy solutions, including in the development of transformative solar, geothermal, batteries, biofuels and advanced surface coating technologies.

“On behalf of the House of Representatives, I applaud this vital investment in the transformative and resilient clean energy technologies of the future,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “This exciting step is a key pillar of the Democratic Congress and Biden-Harris Administration’s mission to not only reverse the recent anti-science, anti-climate agenda but to Build Back Better – while creating millions of good-paying jobs, protecting public health, advancing America’s preeminence in the green technologies of the future and advancing justice for all.”

“I was proud to push for the creation of ARPA-E as part of the COMPETES Act in 2007 and include it as part of House Democrats’ Make It In America plan for jobs and opportunity in 2010. Congress reauthorized and expanded ARPA-E in the recently enacted Energy Act of 2020,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer. “Since then, ARPA-E has been an essential tool in federal support for clean-energy innovation, which leads to greater economic competitiveness for U.S. businesses and their workers. These new technologies help create good jobs here at home that position our country to lead the global race in clean energy, which cannot be outsourced, and I’m glad that the President is making ARPA-E a central part of his push to invest in clean energy job growth.”

“I’m thrilled to see the Department of Energy announce $100 million for research and development of game-changing energy technologies. Innovation is critical to addressing the climate challenges facing us today and to charting a path to a cleaner energy future,” said Senator Joe Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “West Virginia has hosted four ARPA-E projects and the Mountain State’s innovative spirit continues to thrive. I encourage all scientists, entrepreneurs and technology trailblazers to apply for this funding. I will continue supporting the Department’s investment in these much needed technologies of the future.”

Potential applicants can visit ARPA-E’s newly launched OPEN 2021 website to access useful information and resources, including a teaming partner list for help forming new project teams and identifying potential collaborations, and webinars featuring Program Directors discussing technical areas they hope to pursue.

To apply for funding through OPEN 2021 click HERE.

Recycling face masks into roads to tackle COVID-generated waste

Read the full story from RMIT University.

Researchers have shown how disposable face masks could be recycled to make roads, in a circular economy solution to pandemic-generated waste.

Industrial Refrigeration Consortium releases Fugitive Emissions Guidance Document

Download the document.

This document provides methods for establishing the design or intended inventory of refrigerant for a given industrial refrigeration system. It also provides guidance on dynamically tracking the refrigerant inventory in refrigeration systems as a means of alerting plant personnel to refrigerant losses that may be occurring. Finally, this document provides approaches that can be used for identifying locations where fugitive emissions of ammonia from refrigeration systems may be occurring.

This project was funded by U.S. EPA Region 5 as part of the Pollution Prevention (P2) program under Grant Number 00E02366. The investigators would like to thank Christine L. Anderson, Region 5 Pollution Prevention Coordinator and Antoinette Hall, Region 5 Project Officer for their project oversight and support.

US has multiple, affordable paths to net zero emissions by 2050, California study concludes

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 could be “surprisingly feasible,” with costs running $1 per day per person or just 0.4% of the U.S GDP, according to a new report from the University of San Francisco, the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and consulting firm Evolved Energy Research.

No matter which decarbonization strategy the U.S. ultimately adopts, technical limitations in other fields mean the electricity sector must be among the first to pursue aggressive decarbonization, eliminating 65-70% of its emissions by 2035, according to Jim Williams, the paper’s lead author and an associate professor at the University of San Francisco.

Despite the need for carbon-free electricity, excessively ambitious decarbonization targets could actually undermine the nation’s success. “If you look at the reality of what that would entail on the ground, the impact would be such that I would anticipate any policy that pushes that change along would swiftly face blowback and ultimately be abandoned,” said Ryan Jones, co-founder of Evolved Energy Research. “That is the worst outcome in terms of this transition.”

Electronic waste in the US is changing

Read the full story in The Hill.

Americans spent $400 billion in 2020 on technologies like smartphones, computers, TVs and streaming media. Electronics have found their way into every aspect of modern life and work. But as products get replaced faster and repaired less, electronics are also finding their way into our trash, prompting some to call electronic waste (e-waste) the fastest growing waste stream in the world. 

But in the U.S., electronic waste is actually starting to decline. A new study, which I, Callie Babbitt, co-authored with Shahana Althaf, shows that the total weight of used electronics discarded by households shrunk 10 percent since its peak in 2015. The main reasons: technological innovation and shifting consumer preferences. For instance, households replaced bulky tube TVs with slimmer flat panel models — a shift spurred by the analog-to-digital TV transition a decade ago…

Unfortunately, many changes that make electronics lighter and more efficient end up making them harder to reuse and recycle. With less than 40 percent of used electronics being recovered in the U.S., we are wasting an enormous opportunity to capture the valuable materials and components they contain. We are also missing out on their potential contribution to the new administration’s ambitious plans to tackle climate change.

Environmentalists Make Long-Shot Attempt to Ban New Factory Farms

Read the full story at Stateline.

Lawmakers in Iowa and a handful of other states, frustrated by agricultural regulations they say don’t adequately protect water and air quality, have filed legislation to ban new or expanded large-scale farms.

Why the Recycling System Is Not Broken

Read the full story at Wast360.

 “Is recycling broken?” It’s a question I am frequently asked. The answer is that recycling is not “broken” – but as it stands, it is still too specialized to reach the goal of achieving a complete circular economy. To achieve this goal, we need to embrace the opportunities that recycling can offer – a mass market solution that’s affordable and available to everyone, everywhere.

At present, only 9% of the plastic made each year is recycled, which is nowhere near the level required to create an environment where we have enough resources for all the people around the world. Even accounting for the fact that almost half of plastic remains in use more than a year after being placed in the market (i.e. electronics, automobile parts, furniture, pipe and such) there is still tremendous opportunity to grow recycling. And with the pandemic causing recycling efforts to take an even greater hit, it is more important now than ever to improve recycling efforts as society aims to build back better – or as I like to say, build forward better.

The good news is that we are on the path to achieving higher levels of recycling adoption through efforts to expand recycling operations, increase consumer demand for recycled products, and innovation in the space – but there is still much more work to be done. And while the task might seem daunting, I believe we can prioritize three key areas in order to achieve mass adoption of recycling around the world.

Natural Grass Playing Field Case Study: Martha’s Vineyard, MA

Download the document.

Communities on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts have partnered with a non-profit group called The Field Fund to manage their natural grass playing fields with organic maintenance. The playing fields support the full demands of local youth and adult recreational activities, and increase community access to pesticide-free play spaces. This case study provides information on maintenance practices, costs, use, successes, and challenges for three natural grass field complexes on Martha’s Vineyard: Oak Bluffs School Fields, West Tisbury School Fields, and West Tisbury Town Field.

The maintenance practices highlighted here were created to meet Martha’s Vineyard’s specific conditions and needs, these methods can be adapted to any town, school, or community looking for a cost effective way to maintain their playing fields.

This is the third in a series of case studies created by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), intended to share the experiences of communities that have chosen to invest in organically managed natural grass athletic fields. The first two case studies described the experiences of the City of Springfield and the Town of Marblehead, which show what can be accomplished with use of core organic management techniques. This case study presents how precision technologies can be used alongside core organic management techniques, for those communities that have resources for additional investment.

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