Colorado: Noble Energy agrees to clean up Front Range fracking pollution

Settlement with EPA, state health department should cut emissions of smog- and cancer-causing toxic gases

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Smoggy skies. Photo courtesy NREL.

Staff Report

FRISCO — For years, thousands of storage tanks owned and operated by Houston-based Noble Energy leaked toxic smog- and cancer-causing gases into the Colorado’s heavily fracked Front Range.

When when state and federal environmental inspectors confronted the company with evidence of the leaks, executives shrugged, and said their systems weren’t designed to handle the sudden oil and gas boom across the region. Continue reading

After dropping for a few years, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions creep up again in latest EPA tally

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Carbon dioxide … and more.

Can the EPA’s clean power plan help tame the global warming dragon?

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 9 percent in the last 10 years, the EPA said this week, releasing its 20th annual national greenhouse gas inventory.

The latest tally is current through 2013, which shows a 2 percent increase from the previous year, due to increased energy consumption across all economic sectors and increased use of coal for electricity generation. Continue reading

Environment: EPA to start tracking nanoscale chemicals

An engineered DNA strand between metal atom contacts could function as a molecular electronics device. Such molecules and nanostructures are expected to revolutionize electronics. Understanding the complex quantum physics involved via simulation guides design. For NASA, devices and sensors made from such molecules and nanostructures may be particularly useful when electrical power is limited.

An engineered DNA strand between metal atom contacts could function as a molecular electronics device. Such molecules and nanostructures are expected to revolutionize electronics. Understanding the complex quantum physics involved via simulation guides design. For NASA, devices and sensors made from such molecules and nanostructures may be particularly useful when electrical power is limited.

Agency proposes new reporting requirements under Toxic Substances Control Act

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice stories on nanoscale materials here

FRISCO — The EPA wants to start compiling health and safety information for nanoscale chemicals and is proposing one-time reporting and recordkeeping requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

“Nanotechnology holds great promise for improving products, from TVs and vehicles to batteries and solar panels,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. “We want to continue to facilitate the trend toward this important technology.

Despite the promise of nanoscale materials, scientists know there is potential for negative environmental impacts. In a 2012 study, researchers with the University of Alaska and the U.S. Geological Survey found that carbon nanotubes can kill aquatic organisms. Continue reading

EPA dials back use of dangerous systemic pesticides

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Pesticide-free sunflowers thrive on this organic farm in Austria. @bberwyn photo.

Agency says it won’t permit any new uses until pollinator safety studies are done

By Bob Berwyn

*More Summit Voice stories on pesticides and honey bees here

FRISCO — Under persistent pressure from the public and environmental activists, the EPA today started dialing back the use of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides that have been implicated in the decline and collapse of honeybee colonies around the world.

In a notice to entities using those pesticides, the EPA said it would not be accepting any new applications: “EPA believes that until the data on pollinator health have been received and appropriate risk assessments completed, it is unlikely to be in a position to determine that such uses would avoid “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment,” as required by federal environmental regulations, the agency wrote in its April 2 letter to registered users. Continue reading

Environment: EPA reports steady gains in auto fuel efficiency

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U.S. automakers make progress on cutting emissions, the EPA says. bberwyn photo.

Overall average fleet efficiency at 24.1 miles per gallon

Staff Report

FRISCO — Automakers are stepping up the pace on reducing emissions, according to the EPA, which this week released a report showing that the industry overall outperformed the national greenhouse gas emissions standards by a wide margin for the second year in a row.

Compliance for model year 2013 was 1.4 miles per gallon better than required by the 2013 standard. The report presents detailed information about how individual firms are complying with GHG emissions standards for cars and light trucks.  Continue reading

Environment: Lawsuit highlights herbicide ‘death spiral’

A ladybug enjoys a leisurely stroll in an organic Austrian corn field.

A ladybug enjoys a leisurely stroll in an organic corn field.

Court challenge aimed at protecting whooping cranes, endangered bats

Staff Report

FRISCO — Hoping to forestall a DDT-type disaster, environmental groups and farmers last week moved to block the EPA’s approval of a new herbicide that could threaten endangered species.

In a federal court, the groups said the approval violates the Endangered Species Act because the EPA failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the impact of Enlist Duo on two endangered species in those states, the whooping crane and the Indiana bat.  Continue reading

Environment: EPA says Keystone XL pipeline could add 1.37 billion tons of ‘extra’ greenhouse gases to atmosphere

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Oil price drop should be bigger factor in evaluations

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In case there was ever any doubt (and there wasn’t), the EPA this week made it clear that construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would result in a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

The agency’s formal comment letter to the State Department focused on shifting market conditions, including the recent dip in oil prices, pointed out that the overall analysis for the pipeline failure to explore alternative routes that would not put critical land and water resources at risk. Continue reading

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