Archives for the month of: September, 2010

Louisville Courier-Journal: Legislators join pro-coal rally outside EPA coal ash hearing – Political theater and serious testimony in Louisville about jobs and health put a sharp focus Tuesday on coal and what’s left behind when the black rock is burned to generate electricity. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public hearing at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel drew several hundred people and was intended to help the agency decide between two options — one more stringent than the other — for managing the huge and expanding volume of fly ash, bottom ash and scrubber sludge produced by coal-fired power plants.. It was the seventh of eight that the agency has held in the last month.  Read more here. See video of protests below.

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The New York Times: $1.5 billion plan would cut sewage in city water -The Bloomberg administration wants to invest up to $1.5 billion over the next 20 years on new environmental techniques to reduce the flow of sewage into the city’s waterways.  The plan, announced on Tuesday by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, calls for building an infrastructure to capture and retain storm water before it reaches the sewer system and overloads it. The city would foster investments in projects like green roofs with plantings, porous pavement for parking lots, rain barrels, wetlands and depressions for collecting water in parks, for example. Read more here.

Nature: Phosphate fertilizer warning for China – Researchers are warning that inappropriate management of phosphate fertilizer and animal manure in China has resulted in serious water pollution and substantial waste of phosphorus, a non-renewable inorganic chemical. Read more here.

AOL News: Food-safety lawyer puts his money where your mouth is – Why should a trial lawyer kick in a half-million dollars of his own money to document the presence of an unregulated pathogen in America’s meat supply when the agency responsible for meat safety won’t? Read more here.

The New York Times: 18 Senate Democrats join GOP in assault on EPA’s boiler proposal – In a sign of growing bipartisan opposition to a proposed crackdown on air pollution from industrial boilers, 18 Senate Democrats have joined a slew of Republicans in asking EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to scale back the agency’s plans.  The 41 senators are worried about the proposed “Boiler MACT” rule, which would require operators of the boilers to install maximum achievable control technology (MACT) for toxic air pollutants such as mercury. It could cost tens of billions of dollars to upgrade the nation’s roughly 200,000 boilers, which provide power to many industrial facilities, universities and hospitals. Read more here.

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A new study published online by the Annals of Medicine reports a significant increase in people with celiac disease — particularly in the elderly.  The results were a surprise to researchers.   According to the study’s abstract: “During a 15-year period [celiac disease] prevalence increased 2-fold in the CLUE cohort and 5-fold overall in the US since 1974. The CLUE study demonstrated that this increase was due to an increasing number of subjects that lost the immunological tolerance to gluten in their adulthood.”

Of course, that raises the important question:  why did so many subject lose their immunological tolerance to gluten?

Here is what the study’s lead author had to say:

NPR:

“It may be the environment that has made this change over time.  Grains now are more refined and therefore have more gluten. It could also be the quantity of grains that we eat. It could be the composition of the bacteria that live in our intestines that can trick our immune system differently now than the past. These are all obvious — but not solid — guesses.”

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“We’re in the midst of an autoimmunity epidemic, and celiac disease is not an exception. . . .”

Los Angeles Times :

What causes late onset of celiac disease isn’t known. People must have a genetic predisposition to it, but scientists aren’t sure why gluten intolerance would develop after so many trouble-free years.

Fasano said environmental factors may trigger changes in the immune system that could activate anti-gluten gene. But identifying those factors won’t be easy.

“What has changed in the environment in the last 30 years?” Fasano said. “We have more antibiotics, more vaccinations, bioengineered foods, chemicals we haven’t been exposed to, and pollutants that haven’t been around in the concentrations we have now.”

Politics Daily: Diesel dangers: Mining companies get first look at government cancer study – “A long-delayed government epidemiological study of possible ties between diesel exhaust and lung cancer in miners may finally be published this fall — but only after a mining industry group, represented by the Washington lobbying powerhouse Patton Boggs, finishes a pre-publication review of the study’s drafts.
Eighteen years in the making and eagerly awaited by public health officials, the cancer study evaluates more than 12,000 current and former workers from eight mines that produce commodities other than coal. Its goal is to determine whether ultrafine diesel particulate matter — a component of exhaust from diesel-powered machinery — poses a serious hazard to miners in confined spaces.” Read more here.

Global Times: All the cars are causing lung cancer – “Lung cancer is now the No.1 killer of all the many cancers killing Beijingers, and most doctors believe air pollution is doing it. The national smoking rate has kept decreasing in the last 30 years but the incidence of lung cancer has risen four times, Zhong Nanshan, director of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told the Guang-zhou Daily.The rise in haze is directly proportional to the rise in lung cancer incidence, he said, and smog has overtaken nicotine as the chief cause of lung cancer.” Read more here.

Mobile-Press Register: After oil spill, depression and stress levels rise in coastal Alabama – “An emergency survey conducted door-to-door in coastal Alabama confirmed elevated levels of depression and stress following the oil spill and also detected possible effects, such as respiratory ailments, according to a preliminary report.” Read more here.

From Scotland’s Herald:

Tens of thousands of tonnes of toxic waste from Scotland are being illegally dumped in Africa and Asia every year with the help of organised criminal gangs, according to an investigation by the Scottish Government’s environmental watchdog.

Mountains of broken televisions, defunct microwaves, worn tyres, contaminated paper and other waste exported from Scottish homes and businesses end up threatening the environment and endangering the health of people in Nigeria, Zanzibar, Ghana, Indonesia, Pakistan, China and elsewhere.

But now the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) is cracking down on the criminal trade, and has stopped eight major shipments this year. Four other illegal waste cargoes from Scotland have been intercepted by regulatory agencies in England, The Netherlands and Belgium since 2008.

Read the entire article here.

Press Release from EPA (09/22/10):

WASHINGTON – Today, for the first time in more than a decade, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair, Nancy Sutley, reconvened the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) in a meeting held at the White House. The meeting, attended by five cabinet members, demonstrates the Obama administration’s dedication to ensuring all Americans have strong federal protection from environmental and health hazards. Pollution like dirty air and contaminated water can have significant economic impacts on overburdened and low-income communities, driving away investment in new development and new jobs and exposing residents to potentially costly health threats. This historic gathering marks a recommitment to advancing the mandate of Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, which states that each agency, with the law as its guide, should make environmental justice part of its mission.

The role of the EJ IWG is to guide, support and enhance federal environmental justice and community-based activities. By coordinating the expertise and resources of federal government agencies, the EJ IWG will work to identify projects where federal collaboration can support the development of healthy and sustainable communities. The EJ IWG will also seek opportunities to provide green jobs training in communities in need and promote a clean energy economy.

Attendees at the meeting included Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Justice; Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of Interior; Secretary Shaun Donovan, Department of Housing and Urban Development; Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation; Administrator Martha Johnson, General Services Administration; Carol Browner, senior advisor to the president on energy and climate change; John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Melody Barnes, director of the White House Office of Domestic Policy; and representatives from the following federal agencies: Labor, Health and Human Services, Energy, Education, Homeland Security, Commerce, Army, Agriculture and Defense, among others.

“Environmental challenges in low-income and minority communities are barriers to opportunity. Dirty air, polluted water and contaminated lands degrade health and the environment while discouraging investments and economic growth,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We believe that the burdens these communities face are best approached with collaborative efforts, built on the strengths brought by a team of different federal agencies. Revitalizing this workgroup creates an important chance to work together on environmental justice issues that have held back the prosperity of overburdened communities for far too long.” Read the rest of this entry »

Glenwood Springs Post Independent: Report finds possible health risks from drilling: Draft of Battlement-centered Health Impact Assessment released – “Plans for up to 200 natural gas wells in the Battlement Mesa community near Parachute do pose potential health risks for those living in the community, according to a newly released study.  Garfield County on Monday released the draft report of the Health Impact Assessment, conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health in partnership with the county health department..”  Read more here.

Chemical and Engineering News: Hunting For Perfluorochemicals In Ski Wax – “In ski racing, the difference between first and second place can depend on hundredths of a second, so racers grab every advantage they can. Unfortunately, the ski waxes that help athletes shave down their times also expose the people who wax their skis to possibly harmful perfluorochemicals. Now Swedish researchers report that the waxers’ bodies may metabolize one common perfluorochemical into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to adverse health effects.”  Read more here.

WWL-TV Eyewitness News: Scientists question thoroughness of Gulf seafood testing – “At the height of the oil spill, more than one third of the Gulf’s federal waters were closed as a precaution, amid fears of what the oil could be doing to the water and marine life.”  Read more here; see video below.

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Los Angeles Times: Obama administration leaves climate change to Congress, not the courts. “Environmentalists say they are surprised and disappointed that the Obama administration is urging the Supreme Court to kill a major global warming lawsuit that seeks new limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.” Read more here.

Hartford Courant: Tylerville Residents Voice Anger Over Water Woes. “For more than 30 years, drinking wells in the Tylerville section of Haddam, between state Route 154 and the Connecticut River, have been polluted with TCE, a once common solvent now banned from some industries because of its potential health risks. . . . But some residents, at their wits’ end already, bristle at that notion, saying they can’t sell their homes as long as they are living in a contamination zone and feel their long-term physical and emotional health is in jeopardy. In addition, some health officials say the filters are designed to be temporary measures, and are not meant to indefinitely handle TCE levels that have been measured as high as 124 times the allowable limit in a Tylerville residential drinking well. . . . Anger has now begun to boil over at the snail’s pace of the cleanup efforts and what many, including an environmental monitoring council appointed by the governor, see as a soft enforcement posture by state regulators against the former Sibley Co.” Read more here.

Louisiana Daily Comet: Illness from spill unknown still. “When he started working on a crewboat for Guilbeau Marine in May cleaning up the Deepwater Horizon spill site, the 35-year-old Pierre Part native said, he became gravely ill. He can no longer work, medical bills and household expenses ate up a piddling settlement, and promised help from Kenneth Feinberg’s Gulf Coast Claims Facility has yet to materialize. Matherne now begins each day afraid of the future and wondering how much of one he has.” Read more here.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Child’s cancer risks rise ‘before pregnancy’: Biggest study on preventing the disease finds parents’ habits and upbringing play major role. “The chances of getting cancer begin even before conception, according to one of the world’s leading experts in nutrition. Women’s lifestyles before getting pregnant and while carrying their baby have a major impact on whether their child will develop the disease, Professor Ricardo Uauy said. Uauy, an adviser to the United Nations and the World Health Organisation, has put together the most comprehensive picture yet of cancer prevention throughout the course of a life, including how what happens to babies helps to define their risk later. Whether a mother-to-be smokes, drinks or is overweight all play a key role, said Uauy, a professor of public health nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Cancer risk is usually associated with people’s genes and their behaviour as adults. But emerging scientific evidence pinpoints the influence both of parents and the family’s circumstances, he said.” Read more here.

New York Times: Senate bill on food safety is stalled. “After his mother died from eating contaminated peanut butter, Jeff Almer went to Washington to push for legislation that might save others from similar fates. And then he went again. And again. And again. . . .”  Read more here.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: For chemical disaster, just add storm surge. “More than 20 million tons of some of the most toxic chemicals on the planet are housed in risky storm surge zones on one of the nation’s most hurricane-prone coasts, a looming hazard that could produce an environmental disaster on par with the Gulf oil spill. . . .” Read more here.

From The New York Times, September 16, 2010:

Major energy corporations are rallying to defeat California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act. They claim that the act, which caps factory carbon and gasoline emissions, threatens jobs in an a weak economy. However, the act could actually “save the state’s consumers as much as $670 per household in 2020”.

Read excerpts from the New York Times article below and keep scrolling for links to more resources.

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Charles and David Koch, the billionaires from Kansas who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement, donated $1 million to the campaign to suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act, which was passed four years ago, and signaled that they were prepared to invest more in the cause. With their contribution, proponents of the proposition have raised $8.2 million, with $7.9 million coming from energy companies, most of them out of state. . . .

The law in question, known as A.B. 32, mandates slashing carbon and other greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, by forcing power companies and industries to cap their emissions and by slashing carbon in gasoline. Some oil industry leaders said it would force them to invest millions of dollars to comply, and asserted that it would force companies to cut jobs and raise the price of gas at the pumps. . . .

“We have every reason to believe that they are going to put the money in to run a big television campaign in the most expensive media market in the country,” said Annie Notthoff, the California advocacy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. “We certainly are expecting to have a fight on our hands.”

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