Clean Power Plan: Manufacturing Boon or Bust?

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

The Clean Power Plan has its day in court tomorrow. And as the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit prepares to hear oral arguments on the carbon pollution rules, two new studies suggest the Clean Power Plan will make manufacturers more competitive, not less as manufacturing and other industry groups have argued.

The Clean Power Plan requires existing coal-burning power plants to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. In February the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the rule while the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit determines its legality.

Twenty-seven states and dozens of industry groups including the National Association of Manufactures have challenged the Clean Power Plan, saying it will lead to unreliable energy supplies and be too costly for US businesses.

These new reports, however, seem to suggest otherwise.

The reports are:

Pipeline Protests a Pipedream?

Read the full story at the Society Pages.

Thousands led by Native Americans from across the country have converged on rural North Dakota over the past month to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Opponents say the pipeline is a threat to culturally and spiritually sacred sites as well as vital drinking water sources. Protesters have erected an encampment and are leading daily marches to the construction site demanding that the company and federal government halt construction in order to protect water and adhere to treaties with Native American tribes. This post outlines the issues and provides links to related research papers.

Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer

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Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology — commonly referred to collectively as “nanotechnology” — is believed by many to offer extraordinary economic and societal benefits.

Congress has demonstrated continuing support for nanotechnology and has directed its attention particularly to three topics that may affect the realization of this hoped for potential: federal research and development (R&D) in nanotechnology; U.S. competitiveness in the field ; and  environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns. This report provides an overview of these topics and two others: nanomanufacturing and public attitudes toward nanotechnology.

SDG Target 12.3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2016 Progress Report

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In September 2015, a historic window of opportunity opened to elevate the issue of food loss and waste reduction on the global agenda. At the United Nations General Assembly, countries of the world formally adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDG 12 seeks to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.”

The third target under this goal (Target 12.3) calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains (including post-harvest losses) by 2030.

Since the announcement of the SDGs, to what degree has the world made progress toward achieving Target 12.3?

This publication addresses this question by evaluating progress relative to a three-step pathway for reducing food loss and waste: (1) target, (2) measure, and (3) act.

EPA releases updated IRIS Toxicological Review of Ammonia

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) has finalized the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Assessment of Ammonia (Noncancer Inhalation). This assessment addresses the potential noncancer human health effects from long-term inhalation exposure to ammonia. Now final, this assessment will update the current toxicological information on ammonia posted in 1991. EPA’s program and regional offices may use this assessment to inform decisions to protect human health.

Industry study: Microgrids to become ‘fundamental building block’

Read the full story in Midwest Energy News.

A new study suggests that microgrids – a rarity in today’s power sector – will evolve to become a “fundamental building block” of the 21st-century grid.

Used primarily to ensure reliability and access in military and other critical applications, microgrids have emerged in recent years as a niche interest for utilities and communities looking to bring more renewables online and increase resilience in the face of extreme weather. Despite the heightened profile, microgrids – islandable networks of generation and distribution – remain a small part of the U.S. energy system, making up a fraction of a percent of the nation’s total power generating capacity.

That is poised to change, according to a report released earlier this month by the National Electrical Manufacturing Association (NEMA), an industry group representing electrical, medical imaging, and radiation therapy manufacturers.

Sponge made of coffee grounds scrubs lead and mercury from water

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

Homes, restaurants, and the coffee industry collectively produce about 6 million tons of spent coffee grounds every year. Researchers have now come up with a practical way to use some of this waste. They have made a rubbery foam from used coffee powder and silicone that can pull lead and mercury ions from water (ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b01098). The spongelike material could be used to clean heavy-metal-contaminated water on a large scale, its creators say.