Green groups push EPA to address airline emissions


A commercial airliner flies over the Sierra Nevada.

Without regs, emissions could triple by 2050

Staff Report

FRISCO — With the EPA set to decide in May whether aircraft carbon pollution endangers public health or welfare, the battle over airline industry emissions in heating up.

Both the EPA and the airline industry have been dragging their feet for years, refusing to address one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas pollutants. This week, six major green groups called on the EPA and the  Federal Aviation Administration to move quickly to set emission standards to curb greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s aircraft fleet. Continue reading

Anti-fracking groups seek ban in California

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Activists say report downplays threat to water

Staff Report

FRISCO — California regulators this week released the first section of a new environmental review of fracking impacts.  But the study fails to take a hard look at many of the potentially harmful impacts, according to environmental activists.

The review by California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources was released even though state scientists are still six months away from completing their analysis of the risks and harms of the controversial form of oil and gas extraction, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

Environment: Scientists try to assess global health, climate impacts of unregulated trash burning

Open burning of trash, as seen here in General Santos, Philippines, is a global phenomenon that has significant effects on air quality. (Photo courtesy Global Environment Facility.)

Open burning of trash, as seen here in General Santos, Philippines, is a global phenomenon that has significant effects on air quality. Photo courtesy Global Environment Facility.

‘Air pollution across much of the globe is significantly underestimated because no one is tracking open-fire burning of trash’

Staff Report

FRISCO — As much as 1 billion metric tons of waste, including discarded plastics and electronics, is burned each year in unregulated fires, according to atmospheric scientists who set out last year to assess the impacts of trash burning.

The real amount of garbage that’s simply burned in the open probably far exceeds any official government estimates, the researchers said, adding that the practice exposes people to toxic fumes and adds to air pollution woes, especially in developing countries.

The estimate tonnage is about 41 percent of the total annual global waste stream, the study found, providing estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Continue reading

Environment: Hearings set for proposed EPA smog rules


New York smog.

New standards eyed to protect public health

Staff Report

FRISCO — The public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposed EPA rule to cut smog at three public hearings set for late January and early February.

In November, the agency unveiled its proposal to lower the standard from 75 parts per billion to as low as 60 ppb.  The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb. Continue reading

Environment: Study finds air pollution-autism links

New environmental justice deal signifies progress, experts say.

Exposure to fine particulate air pollution during late pregnancy increases risk of autism.

Findings could open the door for preventive measures

Staff Report

FRISCO — Harvard public health researchers say evidence is growing that exposure to high levels of air pollution during pregnancy may double the risk of having a child with autism. The study was the first to explore the link between airborne particulate matter and autism. Continue reading

Environment: Chinese, Texas companies fined $1.26 million for selling ‘dirty’ ATVs and motorcycles

Motorized recreation on Tenderfoot Mountain, Summit County, Colorado.

EPA fines ATV and motorcycle companies for violating Clean Air Act certification requirements. bberwyn photo.

Clean Air crackdown?

Staff Report

FRISCO — The EPA has dinged two Texas companies and four manufacturers in China  with $1.26 million in civil penalties after selling more than 11,000 motorcycles and ATVs that violated clean air rules. The companies will also be banned from selling 2015 vehicles in the U.S.

“EPA’s vehicle certification regulations are an important way we help reduce air pollution and protect public health,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Failing to provide honest and accurate information to EPA compromises our ability to protect clean air for Americans.” Continue reading

Study: Maximum warming effect of today’s greenhouse gas emissions felt in just 10 years


How long do the impacts of greenhouse gases last?

Study shows cutting emissions now will benefit current generations

Staff Report

FRISCO — The maximum heat-trapping effect of today’s greenhouse gas emissions will be felt in about 10 years, scientists said in a new study that refutes the common misconception that today’s emissions won’t be felt for decades and that they are only a problem for future generations.

In their work, Carnegie Institute researchers Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira evaluated how long it takes to feel the maximum warming effect caused by a single carbon emission. The results are published in Environmental Research Letters.

“A lot of climate scientists have intuition about how long it takes to feel the warming from a particular emission of carbon dioxide,” Ricke said. “But that intuition might be a little bit out of sync with our best estimates from today’s climate and carbon cycle models.” Continue reading


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