Energy: Anadarko to pay $5.15 billion fine for fraud

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Trail of toxic waste catches up with corporate polluters.

Largest ever toxic waste settlement will help communities around the country

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A trail of toxic waste sites around the country finally caught up with Kerr-McGee and various subsidiaries of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation last week.

Under a settlement agreement with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice,  Anadarko will pay $5.15 billion to a litigation trust. According to the EPA, the settlement is the largest recovery for the cleanup of environmental contamination in history.

The award came after a bankruptcy court in New York found that Kerr-McGee and the Anadarko subsidiaries played a shell game, selling off assets to try and evade their liabilities for cleanups at toxic sites around the country. Continue reading

EPA says it will scrutinize proposed Pebble Mine impacts to protect water quality in Alaska’s Bristol Bay

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Federal experts will use Clean Water Act standards to assess the potential impacts of a proposed open-pit mine in the Bristol Bay watershed.

Mining would threaten cherished and culturally critical natural resources

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The environmental impacts of a proposed mine along the Alaska coast will be scrutinized through the lens of the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency announced last week.

The proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay could become one of the world’s largest open pit mines if it’s approved, but conservation advocates have launched a fierce campaign to halt the mine. The EPA’s announcement to apply Clean Water Act standards came as welcome news to environmentalists. Continue reading

Beekeepers challenge EPA pesticide approval

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Can a lawsuit save the bees? bberwyn photo.

Lawsuit targets use of systemic pesticides

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say the EPA put honeybees at risk by approving a bee-killing pesticide without adequately considering the potential impacts of the toxic chemical.

Sulfoxaflor is the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the neonicotinoid class of pesticides and is considered by the EPA to be “highly toxic.” Many scientists across the globe have linked this class of pesticides as a potential factor to widespread and massive bee colony losses.

Represented by Earthjustice, the struggling beekeeping industry is challenging the EPA in court, claiming that the EPA violated federal laws by  dismissing the input from their risk assessors that the field tests supplied by the manufacturer Dow Chemical were insufficient to adequately determine pollinator safety. Continue reading

Feds say Oregon must improve coastal pollution controls

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Runoff from agriculture and logging threaten marine ecosystems along the Oregon coast. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

State could lose funding for key water programs

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Oregon is at risk of losing federal funding for coastal and Clean Water Act funding if it doesn’t beef up its coastal nonpoint pollution control program, federal agencies said this week.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the EPA say the state plan doesn’t adequately address nonpoint source impacts from agricultural activities. Specifically,

Oregon needs to show how it will control impacts from logging, including measures for protecting small and medium sized streams; measures to protect landslide prone areas; and measures to address runoff from forest roads built prior to modern construction and drainage requirements. Continue reading

Rocky Mountains facing serious global warming impacts

Agency releases draft versions of climate adaptation implementation plans for review and public comment

Looking for unusual tones in that first gleam of morning sunlight along Peru Creek.

The EPA says the Rocky Mountain region is particularly vulnerable to water supply issues as a result of global warming.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The climate in the Rocky Mountains is changing rapidly, outside  the   range  to  which  society  has  adapted  in  the  past, according to the EPA’s draft climate adaptation implementation plan for the agency’s Southwest Region, which covers western Colorado.

Most of the “cascading effects” of global climate change will be felt in the region, including increased air temperature, decreased precipitation in some areas, and more severe storms. Along the West Coast, oceans will become more acidic and warm and sea level will rise. Continue reading

Environment: EPA to tackle ocean plastic pollution

Guidance to create framework for local regulations

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A seal trapped in plastic debris. Photo courtesy EwanEdwards/TheClippertonProject.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After decades of neglect, the issue of plastic debris polluting the oceans is finally showing up on the EPA radar screen. Even though the agency recently declined to address plastic pollution under the Clean Water Act, it will step up efforts to monitor and assess health and environmental impacts, and to develop national data on the economic costs of ocean litter to local, state and national governments.

“We’re happy to see the EPA taking plastics pollution seriously,” said Center for Biological Diversity attorney Emily Jeffers. The environmental group last year petitioned the EPA to develop water-quality standards for plastic pollution and publish information to guide states in monitoring and preventing harm to waters from plastic pollution.

“Every year bits of discarded plastic kill thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals. Some choke on plastic, and others are poisoned by it. Still more find themselves swimming through vast patches of toxic litter. It’s an international tragedy that needs to be addressed,” Jeffers said.” Continue reading

EPA releases draft climate change adaptation plans

Agency cites increases of extreme weather, drought and flooding in call for public comment

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A NASA map shows global temperature anomalies for Aug. 2013.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — At this point, most people know that global warming is already having tangible impacts on their day-to-day lives, from more intense heatwaves to destructive coastal flooding and longer wildfire seasons.

But it’s not always easy to figure what, if anything, can be done. To help communities in different parts of the country, the EPA is developing climate change adaptation implementation plans, with detailed information about the actions EPA plans to take across the country to help communities adapt to a changing climate. Continue reading

Climate: U.S. Supreme Court eyes greenhouse gas ruling

aggi_figure1By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The U.S. Supreme Court won’t question the EPA‘s fundamental finding that greenhouse gases are a big environmental threat, but the justices will decide how far the agency’s authority to regulate those gases extends.

At issue is the EPA’s ability to set emission limits on cars, factories and power plants — all key pieces in the Obama administration’s push to get a handle on global warming. Big business, of course, would like to see business-as-usual, and along with several states, legally challenged the EPA’s rule-making authority. Continue reading

Environment: Soot pollution targeted by new lawsuit

Diesel exhaust is significant regional contributor to soot pollution.

Diesel exhaust is significant regional contributor to soot pollution.

Green group cites lack of EPA enforcement in nine-state legal action

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — More than 100 years after the dawn of the industrial age, factories and power plants are still spewing toxic soot into the air, even though the technology to halt the pollution is readily available.

Conservation advocates last week said enough is enough, and announced a far-reaching lawsuit that would force the EPA to finally live up to its obligation to enforce Clean Air Act standards.

“The Clean Air Act can only work to protect public health and ecosystems if it is actually enforced,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “EPA and the states have a moral and legal duty to work to together to clean up the toxic soot that’s polluting our skies.” Continue reading

Pollinator crisis: Will new EPA labeling requirements for pesticides help protect bees?

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The pollinator crisis continues, while the EPA takes small steps to address pesticide impacts.

FRISCO — New EPA labeling requirements for  neonicotinoid pesticides will help, but don’t go far enough to protect honey bees, watchdog groups said last week.

The changes come amidst growing concern over a global honey bee die-off that threatens food crops.

The systemic neonicotinoids are absorbed by the whole plant; when bees come into contact with the pollen or nectar, they are exposed to the toxins, which have been shown to supress immune functions. Continue reading

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