Energy Department announces $40M to boost electricity, weatherization in low-income communities

Read the full story at The Hill.

The Biden administration on Friday announced over $40 million in funds toward weatherization and electrification of low-income areas. 

Calif. enacts historic plastics law, upping ante on industry

Read the full story from E&E News.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a landmark plastics bill into law late yesterday, the latest in a dramatic series of legislative efforts by states cracking down on plastics in the absence of federal intervention.

After weeks of intensive lobbying, the California Legislature approved a plastics packaging bill, S.B. 54, that is now the nation’s most sweeping extended producer responsibility law — a major move toward shifting waste costs back onto manufacturers.

Touting the bill last night, Newsom (D) emphasized California’s efforts toward reducing plastics pollution and production in the aftermath of a Supreme Court decision yesterday that significantly curbed EPA’s ability to combat climate change.

EPA describes how it will regulate power plants after Supreme Court setback

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Following the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last week limiting the government’s ability to restrict the pollution that is causing global warming, the Biden administration is planning to use other regulatory tools in hopes of achieving similar goals.

A key part of the plan: Further restrict other pollutants that coal-burning power plants emit such as soot, mercury and nitrous oxides — a move that also will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Revealed: US water likely contains more ‘forever chemicals’ than EPA tests show

Read the full story in The Guardian.

A Guardian analysis of water samples from around the United States shows that the type of water testing relied on by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is so limited in scope that it is probably missing significant levels of PFAS pollutants.

The undercount leaves regulators with an incomplete picture of the extent of PFAS contamination and reveals how millions of people may be facing an unknown health risk in their drinking water.

The analysis checked water samples from PFAS hot spots around the country with two types of tests: an EPA-developed method that detects 30 types of the approximately 9,000 PFAS compounds, and another that checks for a marker of all PFAS.

The Guardian found that seven of the nine samples collected showed higher levels of PFAS in water using the test that identifies markers for PFAS, than levels found when the water was tested using the EPA method – and at concentrations as much as 24 times greater.

Supreme Court’s EPA decision will have little effect on utility move away from coal-fired plants: analysts

Read the full story in Utility Dive.

The Supreme Court’s finding last week that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot use “generation shifting” as envisioned in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan will have little effect on utility plans to shift away from coal-fired power plants to renewables, according to analysts.

Power plant retirement decisions are largely driven by economics, and the relative economic attractiveness of renewables has widened this year given the rapid increase in natural gas, coal and power prices, Morgan Stanley & Co. analysts said in a July 6 research note.

Also, existing and pending EPA rules will likely continue to be a major factor in coal plant retirements, according to Julia Criscuolo, ESAI Power director of renewables and emissions. “Going forward, the EPA will likely look to achieve [greenhouse gas] reductions as ‘co-benefits’ of several other rules,” Criscuolo said Friday in an email.

Food insecurity and water insecurity go hand-in-hand, study finds

Read the full story from the American Society for Nutrition.

In a new 25-country study, researchers report a strong link between water insecurity — a lack of reliable access to sufficient water — and food insecurity.

Companies’ use of renewable energy certificates masks inaction on carbon emissions

Read the full story from Concordia University.

A new study argues that renewable energy certificates — a market-based tool that certifies the bearer owns one megawatt hour of electricity produced from renewable energy sources — generally do not reduce emissions and firms using them are overstating their climate mitigation claims. In one calculation, the researchers show how a sample of 115 companies between 2015 and 2019 reported a 31 per cent reduction in emissions. A closer analysis of that claim reveals that without including the purchase of ineffective RECs, the actual drop in emissions was roughly 10 per cent.

Research clarifies hazards posed by harmful algal blooms

Read the full story from Oregon State University.

Research has shed new light on the hazards associated with harmful algal blooms such as one four years ago that fouled drinking water in Oregon’s capital city of Salem.

A warming climate decreases microbial diversity

Read the full story from the University of Oklahoma.

Researchers conducted an eight-year experiment that found that climate warming played a predominant role in shaping microbial biodiversity, with significant negative effect.

Forever chemicals linked to hypertension in middle-aged women

Read the full story from the American Heart Association.

In a large, prospective study, the levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are common human-made chemicals found in water, soil, air and food, were associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure among middle-aged women. The study found women in the highest one-third concentrations of all seven PFAS examined had a 71% increased risk of developing high blood pressure.