Tag: air quality

Trump’s EPA cuts threaten Colorado environment

USGS and EPA scientists take earth and water samples below the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine in Summit County, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

EDF report details risks to clean air, water programs

Staff Report

The Trump administration’s attempted dismantling of the EPA could have far-reaching consequences for Colorado, according to a new report issued by the Environmental Defense Fund.

The organization warns that the proposed 30 percent budget cut would affect public health and environmental cleanups by reducing the agency’s budget to levels last seen in the 1970s.

“The president seeks to roll back common-sense environmental safeguards that have protected the health and well-being of Colorado for decades,” said Elgie Holstein, EDF’s senior director of strategic planning, “This is not just an assault on an agency. It is an assault on public health and safety.” Continue reading “Trump’s EPA cuts threaten Colorado environment”

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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”

Air pollution seen as another factor in honeybee decline

Ozone degrades scent molecules

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Air pollution makes it harder for bees and other insects to find flowers. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Air pollution is changing plant odors, which confuses bees and makes them less efficient at foraging and pollinating plants, Penn State researchers said in a new study that shows how ozone breaks down plant-emitted scent molecules.

The chemical interactions decrease both the scent molecules’ life spans and the distances they travel, the scientists reported in the new study. They found that plant-emitted hydrocarbons break down through chemical interactions with certain air pollutants such as ozone. This breakdown process results in the creation of more air pollutants, including hydroxyl and nitrate radicals, which further increase the breakdown rate of plant odors. Continue reading “Air pollution seen as another factor in honeybee decline”

Colorado just can’t get a grip on its smog problem

State  fails to meet EPA standard set to protect public health; ozone problems to worsen with global warming

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State regulators have left children, the elderly and asthmatics vulnerable to potentially deadly levels of ozone. Photo courtesy NREL.

By Bob Berwyn

The modest steps taken by Colorado to try and improve air quality along the Front Range aren’t enough, according to the EPA. This week, the federal agency said the state has failed to meet air quality standards set to protect public health.

In a Federal Register Notice, the EPA designated the Denver-Boulder-Greeley-Fort Collins-Loveland corridor as a nonattainment area because it didn’t meet the federal limits for ground-level ozone, the key ingredient of smog. Under the Clean Air Act, the state was required to bring the Front Range into compliance with smog limits by July of 2015.  Colorado failed to meet this deadline. Continue reading “Colorado just can’t get a grip on its smog problem”

Environment: Can a lawsuit shut down one of the West’s biggest and dirtiest coal-burning power plants?

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So much coal, so much pollution!

Legal challenge seeks to hasten the end of the fossil fuel era in the Southwest

Staff Report

A coalition of environmental and community groups is challenging the federal government’s decision to extend operations at the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant for another 25 years. In a new lawsuit, the activists say the approval lacked an assessment of clean energy alternatives.

Specifically, the legal challenge says the federal government’s claim that the power plant won’t harm endangered species violates the Endangered Species Act, and that the final decision violates the National Environmental Policy Act. Continue reading “Environment: Can a lawsuit shut down one of the West’s biggest and dirtiest coal-burning power plants?”

Climate: EPA set to limit heat-trapping coolant chemicals

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Industrial cooling requires extensive use of heat-trapping pollutants. @bberwyn photo.

New regs could avoid the equivalent of 11 million tons of CO2 emissions

Staff Report

The EPA wants to end the use of some industrial coolants that are up to 10,000 times more potent heat-trapping substances than CO2. At the same time, the agency is expanding the list of chemicals that are acceptable as safer and “more climate-friendly alternatives.”

At stake is reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used air-conditioning, refrigeration, and other equipment. Continue reading “Climate: EPA set to limit heat-trapping coolant chemicals”

EU air quality regulations save thousands of lives each year

Cutting pollution improves public health

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Staff Report

People everywhere like to complain about excessive government regulation, and the European Union is no exception. But it’s clear, from a new University of Leeds study, that air quality rules in the EU have saved thousands of lives in recent decades.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that EU policies have led to a 35 percent reduction of fine particles in the atmosphere over the period 1970 to 2010, which has improved public health across Europe, preventing about 80,000 premature deaths each year. Continue reading “EU air quality regulations save thousands of lives each year”