Category: air quality

EPA takes Chrysler to court for cheating emissions tests

The EPA says Fiat Chrysler tried to cheat the EPA emissions standards with software tricks and defeat devices, just like VW.  @bberwyn photo.

EcoDiesel engines on Ram trucks and Jeep Cherokees at issue in civil suit

Staff Report

The EPA may not be beating the climate change drum any more, but it apparently still wants to hold automakers accountable for emissions scams. This week, the agency announced it’s filing a civil complaint against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, alleging that the company installed cheat software on almost 104,000 light duty diesel vehicles.

According to the EPA, the 3.0 liter EcoDiesel engines are equipped with software functions that were not disclosed to regulators during the certification application process, and that the vehicles contain defeat devices. The complaint alleges that the undisclosed software functions cause the vehicles’ emission control systems to perform less effectively during highway driving than on federal emission tests, resulting in increased emissions of harmful air pollutants.  Continue reading “EPA takes Chrysler to court for cheating emissions tests”

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EPA chief Pruitt facing two separate ethics investigations

New EPA administrator Scott Pruitt wants to undo rules to reduce harmful greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants like Craig Station in Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Anti-environmental agency head may have violated EPA policies and lied to Congress under oath

By Bob Berwyn

There’s little question that Scott Pruitt is the worst possible person to lead the EPA. He’s been involved in more than a dozen lawsuits against the agency and he’s called for it to be abolished completely, so it’s no surprise that he’s a target for bitter criticism from conservation groups. But his troubles are about to get much bigger than indignant tweets.

The Sierra Club has filed a formal complaint with the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency demonstrating that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has violated the Agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy in multiple ways. The filing calls for an investigation into and resolution of Pruitt’s comments on carbon dioxide’s role in fueling the climate crisis.

He’s also now facing an ethics complaint by the Oklahoma Bar Association, which will look at whether Pruitt lied under oath to Congress. Continue reading “EPA chief Pruitt facing two separate ethics investigations”

West Coast states, cities, challenge Trump on climate policies

Leaders vow to fight effort to roll back Clean Power Plan

Mercury, heat-trapping greenhouse gases and other pollutants from the Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado have global impacts. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The Trump administration will reportedly soon unveil an executive order to try and undo climate policies developed under Obama, but West Coast states say they have intention of going along with that half-baked proposal. Continue reading “West Coast states, cities, challenge Trump on climate policies”

Global CO2 emissions flat for 3d year in a row

U.S. emissions at 1992 level, according to IEA report

The Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado pollutes lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s biggest economies — the U.S. and China — dropped in 2016 and didn’t grow in Europe, showing that economic growth can occur without an increase in heat-trapping pollution, according to the latest emissions report from the International Energy Agency.

Despite the slowdown in emissions from the power sector, CO2 levels are still climbing at a record rate, though, according to scientists who recently released a report showing that concentrations of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas increased 3 parts per million for the second year in a row. The concentration is now above 400 ppm, more than 43 percent more than pre-industrial levels. Continue reading “Global CO2 emissions flat for 3d year in a row”

EU warns of persistent air quality violations

5 countries now on notice face potential legal action

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Clouds and haze over Vienna, Austria, where particulate air pollution often exceeds standards set to protect human health. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

Five large EU countries are on warning after repeatedly failing to meet air pollution  standards for nitrogen oxide, a precursor to smog and a serious health risk in and of itself. If Member States fail to act within two months, the Commission may decide to take the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Studies have shown that more than 400,000 people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality, while millions more suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Persistently high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) caused almost 70 000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013, which was almost three times the number of deaths by road traffic accidents in the same year.

Because of the persistent breaches, the European Commission this week sent final warning to  Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, urging those countries to improve air quality and safeguard public health.

Continue reading “EU warns of persistent air quality violations”

Droughts and fires affecting Western U.S. air quality

New study tracks increase in summertime haze in Colorado wilderness

Summit County firefighters extinguish a small wildfire between Keystone and Montezuma late March, 2012.
Summit County, Colorado, firefighters extinguish a small wildfire between Keystone and Montezuma late March, 2012. A new University of Utah study suggests that more drought and wildfires will worsen air pollution in the high country of the West, even spreading to pristine wilderness areas. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Longer and hotter droughts and wildfires are polluting the once clear blue skies of the high country in the West, according to new research from the University of Utah.

The study, published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found a link between the severity of drought in the Intermountain West and summertime air quality. Climate projections suggest that drought and wildfire risk will continue to increase in coming decades.

“If you take that into the future, we’re going to see significant hazing of the West,” said University of Utah atmospheric scientist Gannet Hallar. Continue reading “Droughts and fires affecting Western U.S. air quality”

Opinion: Colorado, you are so fracked …

It’s all about the Mancos shale gas

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.
Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level across western Colorado and eastern Utah from 35,000 feet in the air. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

If you think Colorado is getting fracked now, just wait a few more months. The state’s oil and gas producers are lining up with the rest of the fossil fuel industry to cash in on the incoming administration’s dark vision of carbon unleashed. In a press release issued this week, the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association says it’s already planning a trip to Washington, D.C. to expedite approval of a natural gas pipeline across the western USA, leading to an export terminal at Coos Bay, Oregon.

The Canadian company proposing development of the project announced today it will reapply for a permit for the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the next few months.

But a pipeline won’t do any good if there is no place to load the gas aboard ships, and West Coast cities are determined to block new fossil fuel infrastructure, according to InsideClimate News, which reports that Portland is one of the latest cities to use local zoning powers to prevent construction of new major fossil fuel terminals and expansion of any existing facilities.

And according to the watchdog group Citizens Against LNG, the Jordan Cove Energy Project, L.P. also formally requested that its application for a Site Certificate for their South Dunes Power Plant be withdrawn from further consideration by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council and the Oregon Department of Energy. Without that power plant, there won’t any terminal at Coos Bay, activists say.

The idea, according to WSCOGA, is to develop Western Colorado’s vast Mancos Shale gas potential — an energy reserve among the largest natural gas resources in North America. According to the press release, natural gas producers in the Piceance Basin “have applauded Jordan Cove LNG’s decisive and speedy decision to pursue reapplication and approval of the most important energy infrastructure project in the Western United States.” Continue reading “Opinion: Colorado, you are so fracked …”