Feds face another clean water lawsuit

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The federal government is being sued by conservation groups and industry over the new Waters of the U.S. rule.

Conservation groups say new rule has too many pollution loopholes

Staff Report

FRISCO — There will be yet more legal wrangling over a new federal clean water rule, as conservation groups said last week they will sue to plug some loopholes that could open the door for more pollution in wetlands and streams.

At issue is the so-called Waters of the U.S. rule finalized by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in May. That means the feds will be getting sued twice over the rule. Industry groups announced their challenge in mid-July, claiming the new regulations “dramatically expand federal regulatory authority. Continue reading

Environment: EPA finally agrees to study impacts of common pesticides on 1,500 endangered species

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Crop dusting.

Settlement with watchdog group may be the first step in limiting applications of harmful chemicals

Staff Report

FRISCO — Under legal pressure, the EPA last week agreed to begin a far-reaching evaluation of how some of the most commonly used pesticides affect more than 1,500 endangered plants and animals.

The study, to be completed by 2020, could be the first step toward limiting the use of atrazine and glyphosate. The EPA will also analyze the impacts of propazine and simazine, two pesticides that are chemically similar to atrazine. Continue reading

Colorado towns get $2.4 million from EPA for cleanups, as GOP seeks to slash the agency’s budget

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EPA grants have helped clean up acid mine drainage at abandoned mines in Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Denver gets $1 million for South Platte River work; Fort Collins will use grant to tackle Poudre River corridor restoration

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even as right-wing anti-environmental lawmakers in Congress seek to slash the EPA’s budget, the agency in the past couple of weeks announced $2.4 million in grants that will help Colorado communities clean up and revitalize areas that have been tainted by the same big industrial companies that support those legislators.

In the Denver Metro area, the City and County of Denver and the City of Northglenn will each receive $400,000, and Adams County will receive $200,000. Across the country, the EPA made 243 grant investments  totaling $54.3 million to 147 communities. Continue reading

Environment: New fuel standards for heavy trucks would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion metric tons

Trucking industry cautiously supportive of new rules

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There are a lot of trucks on the road these days, and they emit a lot of greenhouse gases. Proposed new federal rules could cut those emissions by 1 billion metric tons and amount to huge fuel savings for the trucking industry. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Obama administration says its proposed new fuel efficiency standards for trucks will cut CO2 emissions by 1 billion metric tons — about equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from all domestic energy use in the U.S.

The new rules would cut fuel costs by  about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels, more than a year’s worth of imports from OPEC. Continue reading

EPA to regulate airline greenhouse gas emissions

Twilight above Boston from a Jet Blue airliner.

The EPA aims to regulate airline greenhouse gas emissions.

Airplane pollutants seen as threat to human health

Staff Report

FRISCO — With greenhouse gas emissions from commercial airliners growing quickly, the EPA this week said those pollutants pose a threat to human health and welfare. The agency will start a measured process to regulate those pollutants, in line with pending international agreements.

Aircraft are the largest unregulated source of transportation emissions, and emissions from aviation could triple by 2050 if left unchecked. Conservation advocates say the EPA’s endangerment finding opens the door for the agency to propose tighter regulations than the international limits currently under discussion at the International Civil Aviation Organization. Continue reading

Legal wrangling over Alaska mine continues

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Years of legal wrangling may be ahead in battle to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from a giant mining operation.

Judge temporarily blocks EPA protections for Bristol Bay

Staff Report

FRISCO — Legal wrangling over a proposed mine in a pristine Alaskan watershed continued last week, as U.S. District Court Judge Russel Holland refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the EPA.

The Pebble Mine Limited Partnership has filed several lawsuits in an attempt to stop the EPA from protecting Bristol Bay, basically claiming that the federal agency overstepped its authority by proposing strict environmental rules for Bristol Bay. Continue reading

Environment: Proposed new ozone standards seen as challenge for regulators

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A snapshot of ozone conditions in early June 2015.

Scientists say more monitoring will be crucial for regulators

Staff Report

FRISCO — Proposed new standards for harmful ozone pollution could present a big challenge for air quality managers at the state and local level. More monitoring is needed to help tell apart local sources from ozone that’s generated elsewhere, Boulder-based scientists wrote last week in Science.

Last November, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed lowering the primary ozone standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 or 65 ppb, based on ozone’s known effects on children, the elderly, and people who have lung diseases such as asthma. A decision by the EPA Administrator is expected in October 2015. Continue reading

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