Remote Home Energy Assessments

Download the document.

This report investigates the potential of remote home energy assessments, which gained popularity during the pandemic but will continue to be a useful tool going forward. Using data sources from multiple stakeholders, our own independent survey comparing in-person and remote assessment recipients, and direct observations of remote assessments, we examined the effectiveness of remote assessments and how they can be improved. We find that remote assessments are not only necessary to expand the reach of energy efficiency, they are also effective, useful for encouraging energy upgrades, and liked by customers. They are an excellent option for utilities to provide alongside (or in addition to) in-person assessments, especially for certain demographic groups such as young and tech-savvy customers. We conclude with tips (in the report and summarized in a supplementary tips sheet) on how to use behavioral science to increase the likelihood of conversion following a remote assessment.

Contaminated drinking water from Peoples Gas leak persists, funds to fix frozen as lawsuit continues

Read the full story from C-U Citizen Access.

A 2016 gas leak into the drinking water supply north of Mahomet continues to be a hot topic, embroiled in regulatory action and lawsuits even five years after the leak.

The first official report of a methane leak from the underground holding wells of Peoples Gas was reported on December 20, 2016. The problem location was at County Rd 350 E. in the township of Newcomb, just north of Mahomet and near Fisher, IL. 

Peoples Gas claims to have capped off the well that was leaking and terminated its use. However, residents in homes in the vicinity said they were still affected by the leak. 

The situation also has led to several initiatives and prompted legislation to solve the problem. However, it took nearly a year before a case was brought to the Illinois Attorney General’s office in October 2017. 

EPA denies extension for Ameren to stop dumping coal ash, gypsum at two power plants

Read the full story in the Missouri Independent.

The move was part of a series of steps the agency said it would take to protect communities from harmful coal ash contamination.

PFOA and PFAS take another step towards becoming full-fledged members of the CERCLA family of hazardous substances

Read the full story at JD Supra.

On January 10, 2022, U.S. EPA forwarded to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a proposed rule that seeks to designate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  Although not unexpected since this was of the key elements of U.S. EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, U.S. EPA’s proposed rule is unique in that it represents one of the first times that U.S. EPA has by rule sought to designate a chemical as a CERCLA hazardous substance.  U.S. EPA’s actions in sending the proposed rule to OMB may also be foreshadowing for a similar effort to designate PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous wastes” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which would subject these substances to RCRA’s cradle to grave regulatory scheme.     

Science Advisory Board (SAB) criticizes draft EPA PFAS documents over lack of transparency

Read the full story at Products Finishing.

In the first week of January 2022, the Science Advisory Board (SAB) PFAS Panel reviewed draft documents for deriving a maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as well as an analysis of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction as a result of reduced PFOA and PFOS exposure in drinking water.  EPA uses health-based MCLGs to set enforceable drinking water standards after taking into consideration cost and technology concerns.  EPA will use the CVD document in its cost-benefit analysis for the enforceable drinking water standard…

EPA science advisors criticized several aspects of the draft documents the agency plans to use to set enforceable drinking water limits, saying that even when the agency’s approach appears to be reasonable, EPA has failed to adequately explain its rationale.  The criticisms follow, and in some cases echo, concerns a variety of public commenters have raised about the documents, where state health officials, industry groups and drinking water officials have said the documents contain numerous errors and inconsistencies. Specifically, the panel reviewed a draft framework for estimating noncancer risks associated with PFAS mixtures, raising concerns it could hamper ongoing state efforts to control the chemicals.

Battlefield 2042 turns the climate crisis into a playground

Read the full story at Wired.

DICE and EA’s latest sci-fi shooter is an example of art imitating life, complete with the trappings that got us all here.

Welcome to the jungle: The Smithsonian’s #MeToo moment

Read the full story from BuzzFeed News.

Many researchers dream of one day working at the Smithsonian’s facility in Panama. But 16 women scientists told BuzzFeed News that their experiences there were nightmares ruled by prominent men who exploited their powers.

Coal powered the Industrial Revolution. It left behind an ‘absolutely massive’ environmental catastrophe

Read the full story at Inside Climate News.

Scenes from the end of coal: A blasted mountaintop in Kentucky, an underground inferno in Pennsylvania, slowly dying maples in New Hampshire and a toxic pile of waste in Florida.

WWF tracker sees ‘problematic plastic’ halved but urgent action needed to fix a ‘complex, broken system’

Read the full story at Beverage Daily.

A new report from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has found that principal members in its ReSource: Plastic programme – including The Coca-Cola Co, McDonald’s, Keurig Dr Pepper, Procter & Gamble and Starbucks – cut their use of ‘problematic plastic’ by 57% between 2018 and 2020. However, the sector needs to move further and faster to a grip on the plastic problem.

What does it mean to save a neighborhood?

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Nine years after Hurricane Sandy, residents of Lower Manhattan are still vulnerable to rising seas. The fight over a plan to protect them reveals why progress on our most critical challenges is so hard.