Lead in Drinking Water Remains Widespread Problem

Read the full backgrounder from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

While the water crisis in Flint, Mich., lingers on, it is becoming clear that the problem of toxic lead in people’s drinking water is widespread across the United States, as are stories about it for journalists to pursue.

There are Flint disasters happening, or waiting to happen, across much of the United States, especially in the aging water systems of the Eastern states. Many news outlets have already found serious lead problems, whether in schools or systemwide. Locations are widespread: BuffaloNewarkProvidenceAtlanta and Chicago, to name only a few.

Trump country is flooding, and climate ideas are shifting

Read the full story at E&E News.

Outside Illinois and Minnesota, the Mississippi’s 10-state path through the central United States is largely a red one. With the exception of major cities like St. Louis; Memphis, Tenn.; and New Orleans, the river runs through states where people voted for a president who has declared climate change a hoax and who, since his election, has done nearly everything within his powers to dismantle globally agreed-to limits on emissions and other efforts to reduce greenhouse gases that lead to global warming.

Yet along the Mississippi’s banks, even in some conservative quarters, people have begun to wonder about the consequences of the man-made changes occurring not just to the path of the river and its tributaries, but to the atmosphere itself. The National Climate Assessment says that the Midwest faces many threats from climate change, including heat waves, drought and flooding. One has already arrived: heavier precipitation caused by a warmer atmosphere capable of holding more moisture.

Connecting Superfund to Environmental Justice Stories

Read the full tip sheet from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

A recent study showing that the worst hazardous waste sites tend to be near low-income housing should come as no surprise. But it does open the door to the many environmental justice stories waiting to be told.

Concerns about the greater impact of pollution on poor people and ethnic minorities are not new. Nor are they going away. But now, environmental reporters have more tools than ever for finding and telling these stories.

The study that just made headlines was done jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It found that about 70 percent of the nation’s most contaminated sites are near low-income housing. The agencies looked at sites on the National Priorities List of the Superfund hazardous waste cleanup program.

The findings are only newsier because they highlight one of the few areas where incoming Trump EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt seems to care about protecting people’s environmental health (although not everybody saw it that way). Pruitt in April visited East Chicago, Ind., a Superfund site where lead contamination prompted evacuation of more than 270 families.

House approves bill seeking to upend EPA pesticide rule

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

The House on Wednesday passed a Republican-backed measure reversing an Environmental Protection Agency requirement that those spraying pesticides on or near rivers and lakes file for a permit.

Blame ‘Amazon Effect’ for proposed bump in S.F. garbage bills

Read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco prides itself on being ecology-minded, having outlawed everything from plastic bags to foam meat trays. But those lofty environmental ideals are going up against a culture that’s increasingly focused on convenience.

Many city dwellers have little time to cook or shop, so they order meals and groceries online, and buy outfits from Internet styling services that deliver to their doorsteps. The fallout from these new forms of consumption is readily apparent in the lobbies of apartment buildings, which are often littered with boxes.

How Rising Seas and Coastal Storms Drowned the U.S. Flood Insurance Program

Read the full story at e360.

Sea level rise and more severe storms are overwhelming U.S. coastal communities, causing billions of dollars in damage and essentially bankrupting the federal flood insurance program. Yet rebuilding continues, despite warnings that far more properties will soon be underwater.

Thinking Outside the Bulb: Innovative Companies Switch on Lumens as a Service

Read the full post from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

The transition to low-cost, highly efficient clean energy technology is being accelerated by an accompanying revolution in innovative business models to deploy that technology. This new approach can be seen in a number of clean energy markets; whether the underlying technology is a recent innovation, such as solar photovoltaics (PV), or well established, like automobiles. As with other similar industry shifts, the fundamental drivers are sound economics combined with the right business model.

A recent example is Lumens as a Service (LaaS), which is the subject of a May 2017 report from RMI. The opportunity is enormous. According to one study, potential building energy efficiency savings could exceed $1 trillion over a decade. The opportunity is particularly compelling for lighting, as it represents about 10 percent of commercial electricity consumption, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2016.