Last month’s Supreme Court decision left EPA with a conundrum: how to meaningfully cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s fleet of natural gas power plants without risking another reversal in court.
Limited technological options and a mountain of legal uncertainty make taming CO2 emissions from existing gas plants a difficult task. But it is one the Biden administration will have to grapple with to have any chance of delivering on its promise to cut power-sector emissions 80 percent by the end of this decade.
The potential focus on gas represents a shift from the Obama era, when EPA largely focused its efforts on curtailing emissions from coal. But CO2 pollution from gas plants has exploded in recent decades, as the fuel replaced coal as the country’s leading form of electricity generation.
The U.S. Department of Justice will investigate the City of Houston to determine if its response to illegal dumping reports discriminates against Black and Latino residents. The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division announced the environmental justice investigation on Friday.
The DOJ will look into Houston’s “operations, policies and practices” to decide if it has violated of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin. The City of Houston calls the investigation “baseless.”
The investigation was spurred by a complaint Lone Star Legal Aid filed in January on behalf of residents in a Northeast Houston neighborhood with predominantly Black and Latino residents who say the city ignored their frequent complaints of illegal dumping.
The U.S. Department of Energy is preparing to award $10 million in grants for research related to “energy sheds,” a concept that takes the idea of a watershed and applies it to electricity generated and consumed in an area.
The strategic mobility plan that Charlotte, North Carolina, recently passed seeks to reduce carbon emissions, improve equity and replace cars on the road with new transit options. Two main goals are expanding transit options to achieve a 50-50 mode share — in which half of all trips are not made in a single-occupancy vehicle — and achieving Vision Zero, the elimination of traffic deaths and serious injuries.
Charlotte’s plan also aims to increase economic mobility, particularly for Black residents, who make up one-third of the city’s population but account for more than three-quarters of bus riders.
While the city council approved the plan at the end of June, the city has not yet established financing for implementation, as it needs support from the state capital to levy an additional tax.
Companies face increasing pressure to dramatically reduce, report and account for how their operations impact society and the environment. Consumers and shareholders demand meaningful reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and resource consumption, while receiving the same high-quality, reliable service that turns a profit.
As believers in technologies, businesses know that they must evolve their operations to align with shared societal and environmental goals while protecting their bottom lines. Many are electrifying their fleets, as the largest contributor to GHG emissions in the U.S., and using tools to gain better insight about how their operations impact the communities they serve and the environment they share. These smart strategies help companies find funding resources, create efficiencies, and better predict and control energy and water costs and emissions.
This hour-long conversation helps companies accelerate progress toward sustainability targets and create long-term cost efficiencies and community benefit by understanding where and when to make operational investments.
You’ll learn how to:
Plan high impact transportation infrastructure projects that propel your sustainability and decarbonization goals.
Make the right investment at the right time and in the right place by evaluating investments through a comprehensive view of sustainability, economic impact, social justice and equity, emission impact, supply chain materials, and product impacts and costs.
Compare and design ideal projects and locations that align with overarching goals, achieve triple bottom line benefits, and embody sustainable design and engineering.
Joel Makower, Co-Founder & Chairman, GreenBiz Group
Maryline Daviaud Lewett, Director, Business Development, Black & Veatch
JC Alonzo, Senior Environmental Sustainability Specialist, Black & Veatch
Black & Veatch is an infrastructure leader in transportation, telecommunications, power and water with decades of experience helping companies engineer and construct optimal systems with a focus on resilience and sustainability. Through first-of-a-kind projects with some of the world’s largest companies across transportation and logistics, finance, energy, and cloud services, Black & Veatch helps businesses reach operational goals and create an enduring sustainability framework.
If you can’t tune in live, please register and GreenBiz will email you a link to access the webcast recording and resources, available to you on-demand after the live webcast.
DOE developed the Low Carbon Technology Strategies guidance documents to support organizations in their journeys to reduce carbon emissions in their buildings. The primary purpose is to aid owners and operators of existing buildings in planning retrofit and operational strategies to achieve deep carbon reductions. These strategy documents supplement existing energy design guides where new construction is the focus. Low Carbon Technology Strategies are currently available for 10 building types, with a supplement for commercial kitchen equipment. Recommendations are grouped by technology, with recommended actions categorized as either simple, intermediate, or advanced.
The City of Wauwatosa first set significant emissions reduction and sustainability goals more than a decade ago and last year installed a solar energy system on the roof of its city hall complex, which is already seeing significant results.
The solar array was completed during the spring of 2021 and has generated 458-megawatt hours of renewable energy for the city, more than half of the site’s total energy usage over that time. It also has reduced carbon emissions by 358 tons.
The renewable energy project covers Wauwatosa’s one-acre city hall complex, which includes its civic center and public library. The 1,036-panel solar array was installed by Wisconsin’s Arch Solar C&I with a 389-kilowatt platform from SolarEdge.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use masks, putting pressure on global plastic waste problems.
A single face mask can release as many as 173,000 microfibres per day into the seas. According to a 2020 report by an environmental group OceansAsia, about 1.56 billion face masks entered oceans globally in 2020.
Face masks are made from combination of several types of plastic. There are several layers of plastic in one mask, primarily polypropylene, which are not easily decomposed and will remain in the environment for decades. It could take centuries for them to turn into smaller and smaller microplastics and nanoplastics.
As biotechnology researchers, we propose biodegradable disposal masks made from pineapple leaves to tackle pandemic-associated waste. Pineapple leaves contain high levels of cellulose, and thus can be a good alternative to plastic fibres.
The advantages of pineapple fibre
Our biodegradable, disposable masks are made from fibres from pineapple leaves. This pineapple-leaf fibre is made of roughly 70% cellulose, making them easy to decompose. As the fibre is immersed in the soil, it only takes three days for microorganisms such as fungi or bacteria to begin the degradation process.
Pineapple leaves, which are typically discarded as agricultural waste, have been used to make products such as rope, twine, composites and clothes. It has a more delicate texture than many other vegetable fibres such as hemp, jute, flax and abaca. It has white and lustrous-like silk, about 60cm length on average, and can easily dyed in a range of different colours.
Pineapple fibre is roughly ten times coarse than cotton. It contains cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin as its primary components, which make the fibre light, easy to care for and attractive, with a linen-like appearance.
The fibre is also much better than regular cotton as it doesn’t contain as many harmful chemicals left over from the manufacturing process. The fibre also can naturally degrade without releasing harmful toxins.
In contrast, cotton is conventionally grown with highly toxic pesticides and fertilisers, and treated with harsh chemicals during the manufacturing process and some of these chemicals are still intact and cannot be washed out.
However, pineapple fibre is not as strong as the plastic fibre, particularly in wet and humid conditions. This may be due to the penetration of water molecules into the molecular chain of cellulose fibre in the plant, which reduces its density and strength.
More research is needed to address this challenge.
Challenges and opportunities
As the world’s fourth-largest producer of pineapple, and one of its major consumers, Indonesia can grab the opportunity to lead biodegradable masks production, as well as tackling COVID-related waste.
However, the development of pineapple fibre masks in Indonesia still depends on public awareness and effective communication. To accelereate eco-friendly mask production, reusable organic mask producers, marketers, and policymakers must consider improving consumer behaviours by promoting healthy and eco-friendly habits.
Scientific analyses must also be encouraged by the government, science institutions, companies doing research and development, and also non-profit organisations in order to raise environmental awareness and encourage beneficial changes in lifestyle, consumption habits and behaviours.
To do that, we need to set an an integrated system with an strict requirements to improve mask producer responsibilities and incentives fees for environmentally friendly material.
In the end, instead of using plastic surgical masks, are we going to use this pineapple fibre mask? The decision is yours.