Webinar: Legislators changing the game on packaging EPR

July 26, 2022, 11 am-noon CDT
Register here.

Packaging continues to dominate the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislative field. In 2022 alone, 16 states – including New York – introduced packaging EPR legislation and game-changing packaging laws were enacted in California and Colorado. This continues the momentum from the previous year, when the first two laws were enacted in Maine and Oregon. Given this momentum, PSI will convene a group of legislators who championed many of these bills to share their knowledge and lessons learned.

The rapid evolution of packaging EPR legislation in the United States will have massive influence on global markets — especially California, which is now the fifth largest economy in the world. In this webinar, we’ll touch on why packaging EPR legislation is critically important to solve the plastic pollution and climate crises, explore how different EPR models and strategies — from municipal reimbursement to hybrid to full EPR — are built into legislation, discuss stakeholders and potential roadblocks, and include ample time for Q&A.

A copyright lawsuit threatens to kill free access to Internet Archive’s library of books

Read the full story in Popular Science.

Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library and a massive repository of online artifacts, has been collecting mementos of the ever-expanding World Wide Web for over two decades, allowing users to revisit sites that have since been changed or deleted. But like the web, it too has evolved since its genesis, and in the aughts, it also began to offer a selection of ebooks that any internet user can check out with the creation of a free account. 

That latter feature has gotten the organization in some trouble. Internet Archive was sued by a suite of four corporate publishers in 2020 over copyright controversies—with one side saying that what Internet Archive does is preservation, and the other saying that it’s piracy, since it freely distributes books as image files without compensating the author. 

Last week, the ongoing case entered a new chapter as the nonprofit organization filed a motion for summary judgment, asking a federal judge to put a stop to the lawsuit, arguing that their Controlled Digital Lending program “is a lawful fair use that preserves traditional library lending in the digital world” since “each book loaned via CDL has already been bought and paid for.” On Friday, Creative Commons issued a statement supporting Internet Archive’s motion. 

A running list of sustainable sales that aren’t Amazon Prime Day

Treehugger has compiled a list of alternatives to Prime Day deals. See also How to Tell If a Prime Day Deal Is Really Just Hype at Lifehacker.

Biggest CCS failure clouds Supreme Court ruling

Read the full story at E&E News.

The future for carbon capture and storage has perhaps never been brighter.

Congress has appropriated billions of dollars of funding to the CCS technology through last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law. And the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the West Virginia v. EPA case left the door open for EPA to require carbon capture as a way to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants.

But there’s a cloud hanging over the potential CCS-building boom: Petra Nova.

Yellowstone flooding rebuild could take years, cost billions

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Created in 1872 as the United States was recovering from the Civil War, Yellowstone was the first of the national parks that came to be referred to as America’s best idea. Now, the home to gushing geysers, thundering waterfalls and some of the country’s most plentiful and diverse wildlife is facing its biggest challenge in decades.

Floodwaters this week wiped out numerous bridges, washed out miles of roads and closed the park as it approached peak tourist season during its 150th anniversary celebration. Nearby communities were swamped and hundreds of homes flooded as the Yellowstone River and its tributaries raged.

The scope of the damage is still being tallied by Yellowstone officials, but based on other national park disasters, it could take years and cost upwards of $1 billion to rebuild in an environmentally sensitive landscape where construction season only runs from the spring thaw until the first snowfall.

Based on what park officials have revealed and Associated Press images and video taken from a helicopter, the greatest damage seemed to be to roads, particularly on the highway connecting the park’s north entrance in Gardiner, Montana, to the park’s offices in Mammoth Hot Springs. Large sections of the road were undercut and washed away as the Gardner River jumped its banks. Perhaps hundreds of footbridges on trails may have been damaged or destroyed.

Data from the sky inform flood planning

by Tiffany Jolley, Prairie Research Institute

Hydrologic models based on lidar data can be created to see how water flows over a landscape, under bridges, and through culverts. Modeling can predict where bottlenecks might occur and where that potential overflow water would flood into. Modeling can also reveal the locations of flood plains, indicating what structures would be affected by a flood event and help to map out evacuation routes that would not likely be underwater.

The Illinois State Water Survey’s the Coordinated Hazard and Assessment Mapping Program (CHAMP) is at the helm of one of the largest 2D models in Illinois, spanning five southern Illinois counties – Johnson, Pope, Massac, Pulaski, and Alexander. The extremely flat topography of this region, known as the Cache River Valley, follows the Cache River system and the historic path of the Ohio River that’s been heavily manipulated by humans over time.

“Water moves in different directions during the course of a flood and that makes the hydraulic flow patterns really complicated to study flooding in this area,” said Chris Hanstad, a CHAMP project engineer. “The Water Survey works with regulatory groups in this region a lot because of this reason.”

Pictured in the model above are the complex hydraulics and hydrology of the Cache River. Flow paths and auxiliary channels adjacent to the Cache River can flow in the opposite direction of the Cache River. At other times, flow can all be moving in the same direction, sometimes even the main Cache River can backup and flow to the East.

The models rely on detailed light detection and ranging (lidar) data captured by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). Lidar data is acquired from a sensor that is attached to the belly of a plane that flies an average of 2,000 to 1,500 meters above the ground. The sensor emits pulses of light and measures the time it takes for each pulse to return to the sensor. That measurement is then used to compute distances to objects (latitude, longitude, and elevation) with accuracy within centimeters both vertically and horizontally. As the light returns to the sensors several times, it travels through soft targets such as trees, power lines, and bushes until it encounters the ground or a building.

In flood mitigation, lidar data allows the researchers to “see beneath the trees.” Scientists are able to look at only the bare earth returns and triangulate specific points to create a seamless mosaic representation of the ground.

“The Cache River valley has an interesting geologic and man-made history that has affected flooding,” said Hanstad.

At the turn of the 19th century, agriculture interests, and then later in the 1950s the Army Corps of Engineers built levees that forced the Upper Cache and Lower Cache River to become separated.

CHAMP and Hanstad are still waiting on input for the modeling of the Reevesville Levee in southern Illinois. As their analysis work winds down, FEMA will begin to produce new floodplain maps for the area.

FEMA requires floodplain maps to be based on current risks and current conditions, developed using data from recent climate assessments, which has been a challenge for communities in emphasizing today’s risk and future risk 25 to 50 years from now.

Flood model of a storm in March 2008 that produced between 7 and 12 inches of rainfall in about 40 hours over the region. This event was the flood of record for the Upper Cache River.

“A lot of floodplain maps were based on older rainfall data, but our new studies are using Bulletin 75 rainfall data which was published in 2020,” said Hanstad.

Models and simulations can also aid in post-disaster recovery. Ongoing work will help bolster mitigation efforts by looking at damages and prioritizing high-risk areas for mitigation against future disasters.

This story first appeared on the Prairie Research Institute News Blog. Read the original story.

New appliances can help keep people in their homes, but upfront costs are a big obstacle

Read the full story at Energy News Network.

Organizations in Chicago help residents connect with grants and rebates for upgrades, which can result in significant energy savings.

Green is gold: Mondelez on why sustainability leads to economic profitability for food industry

Read the full story at Food Navigator Asia.

Global snacking giant Mondelez says sustainability in business operations is much more important to food and beverage companies to achieve economic profitability than popular opinion currently dictates, urging firms to think in the long-term.

Science communication with a French twist

Read the full story in Nature.

Sarah Gagliano Taliun’s mother tongue is English, science’s lingua franca. Her move to a French-speaking university presented challenges and opportunities.

Editorial: Protect Lake Michigan from toxic sites along its shore, while there’s still time

Read the editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Toxic contaminants stored near the shores of Lake Michigan are poised to poison the drinking water that makes Chicago the envy of much of the world.

The time to remove that threat is now. Toxic materials must be buffered from the lake, and techniques such as wetlands restoration and green infrastructure should be employed to manage rising lake levels as much as possible. Green infrastructure includes such things as permeable pavers; landscaping including rain gardens and green roofs, and open areas that absorb and filter stormwater.