Environment: More trouble for VW


The EPA is making new allegations against VW for clean air violations.

EPA says automaker skirted clean air regs with additional diesel vehicles

By Bob Berwyn

There’s more trouble ahead for VW, as the EPA this week issued a second formal notice to the German automaker alleging further Clean Air Act violations.

The latest notice from the EPA is also being issued to Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America. Along with the vehicles identified last month, the EPA now says that VW, Porsche and Audi also installed illegal air pollution “defeat devices” in additional cars, including the diesel versions of: the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5. Continue reading

Report says Animas River spill could have been avoided

Hasty excavation without adequate technical info led to disastrous Gold King mine blowout in Colorado


Tainted abandoned mine drainage is common in the mountains of Colorado. Photo courtesy Bureau of Reclamation.

By Bob Berwyn

Federal and state environmental engineers, along with their contractors, misjudged conditions inside the Gold King Mine before they unleashed a toxic flood of water into Cement Creek down the Animas and into the Colorado in early August.

The technical details about the spill were released this week by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation, which did an independent review of the accident.  Most importantly, the workers underestimated the water level inside the mine. That error “resulted in development of a plan to open the mine in a manner that appeared to guard against blowout, but instead led directly to the failure,” the Bureau of Reclamation wrote in the report. Continue reading

EPA steps up ‘Green Chill’ efforts to cut greenhouse gases


New refrigerants could soon come on the market reduce the use of heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution. @bberwyn photo.

New rule targets HFCs

Staff Report

The EPA is targeting sharp cuts of potent heat-trapping pollutants used for refrigeration with a series of new rules, as well as collaborative steps with industries that use hydrofluorocarbons.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy announced some of those steps last week during a White House roundtable, describing the partnership with companies like Target.

“The powerful combination of EPA’s regulatory actions and innovations emerging from the private sector have put our country on track to significantly cut HFC use and deliver on the goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan,” McCarthy said. Continue reading

EPA sets new ozone standard but faces challenges


Got smog? EPA wants to cut ozone, but will face a challenge on new standard.

Environmentalists say new rule is to weak; industry asks Congress to step into the fray

Staff Report

The EPA’s new smog-fighting ozone standard is likely headed down the same path as the agency’s other recent initiatives to improve the environment.

Like the recently updated wetlands rule and the Clean Power Plan, the new ozone limit was immediately criticized from all sides. Environmental advocates said the agency ignored its own experts when it set the new limit at 70 parts per billion. Industry claims the new rule will cut profits and cost jobs. Continue reading

EPA updates pollution regs for oil refineries

More monitoring and data transparency required

"ExxonMobil Baton Rouge" by Adbar - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ExxonMobil_Baton_Rouge.jpg#/media/File:ExxonMobil_Baton_Rouge.jpg

“ExxonMobil Baton Rouge” by Adbar via Wikipedia and a Creative Commons license.

Staff Report

Oil refineries will have to do a better job of limiting pollutants that cause cancer and respiratory ailments under updated EPA regulations that require fenceline monitoring and more transparent data on emissions.

The regulations cover controls for flares, pressure relief devices, storage tanks, and delayed coker operations. The EPA expects that the rule will result in a reduction of 5,200 tons per year of toxic air pollutants, and 50,000 tons per year of volatile organic compounds, chemical precursors to ozone.

The agency also estimates the new standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from refineries by about 660,000 tons per year at 150 refineries around the country with little impact to the cost of petroleum products. Continue reading

Did VW cheat the U.S. Clean Air Act?

The village VW.

This bug may be innocent, but recent VW diesels sold in the U.S. may be guilty of violating the Clean Air Act. @bberwyn photo.

EPA accuses automaker of using software trick to undermine emissions tests

Staff Report

Germany’s green reputation may be tarnished by one of its biggest automakers, as the EPA and the State of California are accusing the company of circumventing clean air regulations.

The EPA this week issued a formal notice of violation to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. alleging that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 include software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants.

Continue reading

Is the EPA doing enough to protect bees?

Bumblebee love!

Bees are dying in huge numbers, and conservation groups are concerned the EPA is not doing enough to protect them. @bberwyn photo.

Beekeepers accuse pesticide industry of trying to ‘hijack’ public policy

FRISCO — The public comment period for proposed EPA rules on bee-killing pesticides may be over, but the battle over pesticide policies will continue, as conservation groups suspect that the pesticide industry may have exerted undue influence over the rule-making process.

Those concerns are reinforced by some of the country’s beekeepers, who say the proposed rule doesn’t do enough to address federal responsibility to address the impact of pesticides on bee deaths. The Pollinator Stewardship Council recently submitted a letter to the EPA detailing its concerns about the proposed new rule. Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,950 other followers