Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards: A Roadmap for State and Local Action

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This new working paper examines how the Energy Policy and Conversation Act (“EPCA”), and the DOE regulations promulgated thereunder, place limits on the ability of states and cities to outlaw the use of inefficient appliances and equipment.  It surveys existing state efficiency laws that cover products beyond federal jurisdiction, and discusses several steps states can take to advance appliance and equipment efficiency including: (i) seeking EPCA waivers from DOE to create and enforce statewide standards for federally covered products (and, if necessary, litigating the rejection of any such waiver petition); (ii) regulating non-federally covered products such as computers; (iii) encouraging the use of more efficient appliances and equipment through local building codes for new construction; and (iv) revising procurement laws to require the use of products that exceed federal efficiency standards.

Release of treated wastewater from hydraulic fracturing contaminates lake

Read the full story in Science Daily.

Hydraulic fracturing has enabled a domestic oil and gas boom in the US, but its rapid growth has raised questions about what to do with the billions of gallons of wastewater that result. Researchers now report that treating the wastewater and releasing it into surface waters has led to the contamination of a Pennsylvania watershed with radioactive material and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Statistical Survey of Persistent Organic Pollutants: Risk Estimations to Humans and Wildlife through Consumption of Fish from U.S. Rivers

Angela L. Batt, John B. Wathen, James M. Lazorchak, Anthony R. Olsen, and Thomas M. Kincaid (2017). “Statistical Survey of Persistent Organic Pollutants: Risk Estimations to Humans and Wildlife through Consumption of Fish from U.S. Rivers.” Environmental Science & Technology 51 (5), 3021-3031. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b05162

Abstract: U.S. EPA conducted a national statistical survey of fish tissue contamination at 540 river sites (representing 82 954 river km) in 2008–2009, and analyzed samples for 50 persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including 21 PCB congeners, 8 PBDE congeners, and 21 organochlorine pesticides. The survey results were used to provide national estimates of contamination for these POPs. PCBs were the most abundant, being measured in 93.5% of samples. Summed concentrations of the 21 PCB congeners had a national weighted mean of 32.7 μg/kg and a maximum concentration of 857 μg/kg, and exceeded the human health cancer screening value of 12 μg/kg in 48% of the national sampled population of river km, and in 70% of the urban sampled population. PBDEs (92.0%), chlordane (88.5%) and DDT (98.7%) were also detected frequently, although at lower concentrations. Results were examined by subpopulations of rivers, including urban or nonurban and three defined ecoregions. PCBs, PBDEs, and DDT occur at significantly higher concentrations in fish from urban rivers versus nonurban; however, the distribution varied more among the ecoregions. Wildlife screening values previously published for bird and mammalian species were converted from whole fish to fillet screening values, and used to estimate risk for wildlife through fish consumption.

Re-evaluating the Significance of Estrone as an Environmental Estrogen

Gerald T. Ankley, David Feifarek, Brett Blackwell, Jenna E. Cavallin, Kathleen M. Jensen, Michael D. Kahl, Shane Poole, Eric Randolph, Travis Saari, and Daniel L. Villeneuve (2017). “Re-evaluating the Significance of Estrone as an Environmental Estrogen.” Environmental Science & Technology 51 (8), 4705-4713. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b00606

Abstract: Studies worldwide have demonstrated the occurrence of feminized male fish at sites impacted by human and animal wastes. A variety of chemicals could contribute to this phenomenon, but those receiving the greatest attention in terms of research and monitoring have been 17β-estradiol (β-E2) and 17α-ethinylestradiol, due both to their prevalence in the environment and strong estrogenic potency. A third steroid, estrone (E1), also can occur at high concentrations in surface waters but generally has been of lesser concern due to its relatively lower affinity for vertebrate estrogen receptors. In an initial experiment, male fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) adults were exposed for 4-d to environmentally relevant levels of waterborne E1, which resulted in plasma β-E2 concentrations similar to those found in reproductively active females. In a second exposure we used 13C-labeled E1, together with liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, to demonstrate that elevated β-E2 measured in the plasma of the male fish was indeed derived from the external environment, most likely via a conversion catalyzed by one or more 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases. The results of our studies suggest that the potential impact of E1 as an environmental estrogen currently is underestimated.

Plastic Is Everywhere And Recycling Isn’t The End Of It

Read the full story from NPR.

Few inventions in modern history have been as successful as plastic. It’s in vehicles and building materials and most of our electronic devices. We wrap stuff in it and even wear it.

Now a research team has tallied up how much plastic has been produced and where much of it has gone. Turns out, it’s literally almost everywhere.

Clarkson University Researchers & Entrepreneurs Partner to Commercialize Technology to Convert Agricultural Waste for Energy Applications

Read the full story from Clarkson University.

After surveying the state of farming in the United States in 2015, Mitlin and chemistry Ph.D. student Jesse Pokrzywinski concluded there was a glut in milk and related dairy production. From working on a dairy farm in high school, Pokrzywinski witnessed milk being disposed rather than brought to market at a loss.

The researchers learned this was a problem at a national level, with millions of gallons being discarded every year. Over the next two years, Mitlin and Pokrzywinski developed a process to convert milk products and other agricultural wastes into extremely high surface area/low density carbons to be employed for energy storage, CO2 capture and other applications.

Together with Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Mario Wriedt’s group, and with staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Mitlin published a high-profile paper on the material, “Unrivaled Combination of Surface Area and Pore Volume in Micelle Templated Carbon for Supercapacitor Energy Storage,” in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry A, a world-leading energy journal.

Key to speeding up carbon sequestration discovered

Read the full story from Cal Tech.

Scientists at Caltech and USC have discovered a way to speed up the slow part of the chemical reaction that ultimately helps the earth to safely lock away, or sequester, carbon dioxide into the ocean. Simply adding a common enzyme to the mix, the researchers have found, can make that rate-limiting part of the process go 500 times faster.