Reporter’s Toolbox: New Climate Trace emissions database unveiled at COP27

Read the full story from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Sure, there’s a lot of hype at climate change COP meetings. But the new data tool hyped by climate maven Al Gore at the recent COP27 may actually help shed light on the darkening global climate picture.

The effort is ambitious but credible: It seeks to offer quantitative estimates (or measurements) of most of the biggest greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

But is it useful for journalists?

Probably yes, and it probably will keep getting bigger and better all the time. More importantly, it may provide solid(-ish) data in a way that cuts through a lot of the greenwashing.

Where the data come from

The project is called Climate Trace and it’s a huge joint effort. Some may be relieved to learn that the data did not come from Gore himself. And skeptical journalists may be even more pleased to learn that the data did not come from companies or emitters.

Instead, more than 100 collaborators have compiled the data from some 300 satellites and 11,000 sensors. The funders and collaborators are all clearly listed. There are no oil companies among them.

DOD Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) announces funding opportunity

The Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) is seeking to fund environmental research and development proposals. SERDP is DoD’s environmental science and technology program, planned nd executed in partnership with the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, with participation by numerous other Federal and non-Federal organizations. The Program invests across the broad spectrum of basic and applied research, as well as advanced development.

Proposals responding to focused Statements of Need (SONs) in the following areas are requested:

  • Environmental Restoration — Research and technologies for the characterization, risk
    assessment, remediation, and management of chemicals of concern in soil, sediments, and
  • Munitions Response — Technologies for the detection, classification, and remediation of
    military munitions on U.S. lands and waters.
  • Resource Conservation and Resilience — Supports the development of the science,
    technologies, and methods needed to manage DoD’s installation infrastructure in a
    sustainable way.
  • Weapons Systems and Platforms — Research and technologies to reduce, control, and
    understand the sources of waste and emissions in the manufacturing, maintenance, and use
    of weapons systems and platforms.

Proposals responding to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 SONs will be selected through a competitive process.
Separate solicitations are available to Federal and non-Federal proposers. The SONs and detailed
instructions are available on the SERDP website. The Core SERDP Solicitation provides funding in varying amounts for multi-year projects. All Core Solicitation pre-proposals are due to SERDP on January 10, 2023 by 2:00 p.m. ET.

SERDP also will be funding environmental research and development through the SERDP Exploratory
Development (SEED) Solicitation. The SEED Solicitation is designed to provide a limited amount of
funding (not to exceed $250,000) for projects up to approximately one year in duration to investigate
innovative approaches that entail high technical risk or require supporting data to provide proof of
concept. This year, SERDP is requesting SEED proposals for the Munitions Response program area.
The SONs and detailed instructions are available on the SERDP website. All SEED proposals are due
on March 14, 2023 by 2:00 p.m. ET.

Learn More About Funding Available Through SERDP

View the webinar “SERDP Funding Opportunities” conducted by Acting SERDP Executive Director
Dr. Kimberly Spangler, Deputy Director Dr. Andrea Leeson, and the SERDP Program Managers. This
briefing offers valuable information for those who are interested in new funding opportunities with
SERDP. During the online seminar, participants posed questions about the funding process, the current
SERDP solicitation, and the proposal submission process. The webinar can be viewed on the SERDP

Positioning the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Region as a Leader in the Voluntary Carbon Offset Market

Download the report.

The conclusion of this report is that the region has many possibilities to supply both nature-based and engineered carbon projects into the voluntary carbon offset markets (VCMs). 52 gigatonnes (gtons) of at-scale, environmentally sound, high quality additional, durable, and unclaimed) carbon dioxide storage is available in the Great Lakes region by 2050 with a revenue potential
of at least $783B USD.

NASA cancels plans for costly greenhouse gas monitoring satellite

Read the full story from PBS.

NASA is canceling a planned satellite that was going to intensely monitor greenhouse gases over the Americas because it got too costly and complicated.

But the space agency said it will still be watching human-caused carbon pollution but in different ways.

EPA hints at critical changes to TSCA PFAS Reporting Rule, seeks comment

Read the full story at the National Law Review.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) June 2021 proposal of a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reporting rule targeting manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) sparked a major outcry from chemical manufacturers and article importers. 86 Fed. Reg. 33926 (June 28, 2021). EPA acknowledged that its proposed rule would cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than EPA originally estimated. Last week, EPA issued an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IFRA) that previews critical changes to the rule as proposed. 87 Fed. Reg. 72439 (Nov. 25, 2022). EPA requested comment on the IFRA by December 27, 2022. EPA faces a statutory deadline to finalize the PFAS reporting rule by December 31, 2022. Last week’s announcement likely signals that EPA will not meet that deadline.

EPA adds 12 chemicals to Toxics Release Inventory

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that adds 12 chemicals to the list of chemicals subject to Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements. Facilities that are covered by TRI and meet reporting requirements for these chemicals will now be required to report to EPA on quantities of these chemicals that are released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. The first reports on these chemicals will be due to EPA July 1, 2024, for calendar year 2023 data.

TRI data are reported to EPA annually by facilities in certain industry sectors and federal facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use TRI-listed chemicals above certain quantities (typically 25,000 pounds for manufacturing or processing, or 10,000 pounds for a chemical that is otherwise used).

Information collected through the TRI allows communities to learn how facilities in their area are managing listed chemicals. The data collected also help companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public make informed decisions. This information can be especially important to fenceline communities (i.e., communities near industrial uses of these chemicals where releases to water, air, or land could have a greater impact).

In 2014, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) submitted a petition under Section 313(e) of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) requesting EPA add 25 chemicals to the TRI. EPA evaluated the 25 chemicals to determine if they met the TRI listing criteria of EPCRA Section 313(d)(2). In October 2021, EPA responded to the petition by proposing a rule to add 12 of the 25 chemicals to the TRI chemical list. Today’s rule is being finalized without any significant changes from the proposed rule.

The 12 chemicals that are now subject to TRI reporting requirements are:

  • dibutyltin dichloride;
  • 1,3-dichloro-2-propanol; 
  • formamide; 
  • 1,3,4,6,7,8-Hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta[g]-2-benzopyran;
  • n-hydroxyethylethylenediamine;
  • nitrilotriacetic acid trisodium salt;
  • p-(1,1,3,3-Tetramethylbutyl)phenol;
  • 1,2,3-trichlorobenzene;
  • triglycidyl isocyanurate;
  • tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate;
  • tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate; and
  • tris(dimethylphenol) phosphate.

EPA has also classified one of the chemicals, 1,3,4,6,7,8-hexahydro-4,6,6,7,8,8-hexamethylcyclopenta [g]-2-benzopyran, as a persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemical and designated it as a chemical of special concern with a 100-pound reporting threshold. PBT chemicals are toxic chemicals that remain in the environment for long periods of time and can build up in the body, posing potential risks for exposed populations. Even small quantities of these chemicals can pose risks, and the 100-pound reporting threshold reflects that fact.

In separate, unrelated actions, three of the 25 chemicals named in the TURI petition (1-bromopropane, nonylphenol, and 1,2,5,6,9,10-hexabromocyclododecane) have already been added to the TRI chemical list. EPA determined that there is insufficient toxicity information available to support the listing of nine of the remaining chemicals. The last of the 25 chemicals, octabromodiphenyl ether, is no longer in production in the United States and no use or releases are expected. Therefore, EPA anticipates that no reports would be filed for this chemical and did not list it.

Learn more on EPA’s website.

Webinar: The Thrill of Bills: Leveraging Your Water Bills to Maximize Efficiency

Dec. 6, 2022, 10 am CST
Register here.

The amount of details, varying charges, calculations, and lack of explanations in water bills can be confusing. Join this webinar to learn about how understanding your utility bills and water rates can empower you to achieve greater cost savings through energy efficiency.

Improving wild bat habitat could prevent a new deadly disease outbreak

Read the full story at Anthropocene Magazine.

Researchers have meticulously traced how habitat loss and climate conspire to drive deadly disease outbreaks; and how saving flowering trees is a key part of the solution.

The world will probably warm beyond the 1.5-degree limit. But peak warming can be curbed.

Read the full story from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The world’s current climate pledges are insufficient to keep the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement firmly within grasp. Global warming will likely surpass the 1.5-degree Celsius limit.

We are going to overshoot.

But countries can curb time spent in a warmer world by adopting more ambitious climate pledges and decarbonizing faster, according to new research led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of Maryland and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Doing so, they warn, is the only way to minimize the overshoot.

While exceeding the 1.5-degree limit appears inevitable, the researchers chart several potential courses in which the overshoot period is shortened, in some cases by decades. The study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

‘The tipping point is coming’: Unprecedented exodus of young life scientists is shaking up academia

Read the full story at STAT.

Young life science researchers are leaving academia at unprecedented levels for lucrative jobs in the private sector. Many of them are entering graduate programs already knowing they don’t want to remain in academia long-term, making their time in the ivory tower a pit stop rather than a final destination.