Posts tagged ‘Emissions’

New EPA Regulations Target Mercury and Other Toxic Emissions from Boilers and Solid Waste Incinerators

From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published May 4, 2010

The US environmental Protection Agengy (EPA) is currently issuing a new proposal to cut mercury emissions by more than half as well as other pollutants from boilers, process heaters, and solid waste incinerators. Toxic air emissions have been shown to cause cancer and other serious health problems for affected people. The main purpose of this proposal would be to reduce health and environmental risk in a cost-effective way. The EPA estimates that the new rules would yield more than $5 in health savings for every dollar spent in implementing the rules.

“Strong cuts to mercury and other harmful emissions will have real benefits for our health and our environment, spur clean technology innovations and save American communities billions of dollars in avoided health costs,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This is a cost-effective, commonsense way to protect our health and the health of our children, and get America moving into the clean economy of the future.”

Mercury has been shown to be extremely harmful to human health. It can damage the brains and nervous systems for children developing both before and after birth. Mercury in the air eventually is absorbed into the surface water where it can build up in freshwater and ocean marine life. This is highly toxic for people who eat the contaminated fish. The mercury contamination can lead to fish consumption advisories to protect public health.

Efforts at reducing mercury emissions are nothing new. Pollution controls on Mercury were started in the early 1990’s and have gotten progressively tighter. The most recent proposal is another step in tightening the regulations.

The EPA estimates that mercury emissions will be reduced from about 200,000 industrial boilers, process heaters, and incinerators. Health benefits are estimated to be between $18 and $44 billion per year. The new rules would prevent from 2,000 to 5,200 premature deaths and roughly 36,000 asthma attacks per year. Meanwhile, installing and operating the new pollution control devices would require only $3.6 billion under the new rules.

This is what is known as internalizing the cost for operators of boilers, heaters, and incinerators. Air emissions are an externality. Once the air emissions are released, they are no longer the responsibility of the plant operator. However, members of the public have to pay for the emissions through higher health care costs. Therefore, the true cost of the operators’ actions is externalized to the public. The new rules help to internalize this externality.

Boilers and incinerators at large industrial facilities would have to meet the new emissions limits and also be required to conduct energy audits to find ways to reduce fuel use. Smaller facilities such as schools, commercial buildings, or hotels would not be included in these rules, but would be required to perform tune-ups every two years.

After the rules are published in the Federal Register, the EPA will take comments for 45 days and hearings will be held to assess public opinion. To find more information on the new EPA proposals and details on the public hearings, go to:


May 4, 2010 at 9:38 AM Leave a comment

EPA Confirms Climate IS Changing

In another display of the sea change that has occurred at the US Environmental Protection Agency under the current administration, a new report was issued yesterday regarding indicators of climate change. The report, entitled “Climate Change Indicators in the United States,” measures 24 separate indicators showing how climate change affects the health and environment of US citizens.

The report represents another step in a series of actions/statements taken on the climate change by the EPA. This EPA has certainly proved to be more active than previous administrations on this issue. They have labeled CO2 as a gas that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act because it is a significant greenhouse gas. New vehicle emissions standards have been established as well as greenhouse gas standards for such vehicles. On April 15, the EPA published the National US Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The Climate/Energy Bill currently working its way through the Senate has been heavily influenced by EPA actions and consultations. And now a report is issued regarding the indicators of climate change.

“These indicators show us that climate change is a very real problem with impacts that are already being seen,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The actions Americans are taking today to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will help us solve this global challenge.”

The following are some of the key climate change indicators.

– Greenhouse gas emissions from human sources are increasing. From 1990 to 2008, emissions have grown by 14 percent in the US.

– Average temperatures are rising. Seven of the top ten warmest years on record for the continental US have occurred since 1990.

– Tropical cyclone intensity has increased in recent decades. Of the ten most active hurricane seasons, six have happened since the mid 1990’s.

– Sea levels have risen between 1993 and 2008 at twice the rate of the long-term trend.

– Glaciers are melting and their loss of volume has accelerated over the last decade.

– The frequency of heat waves has steadily risen since the 1960’s. The percentage of the US population experiencing heat waves has also increased.

Collecting and analyzing environmental indicators can help in understanding the causes of climate change as well as predict what the future will bring. Understanding this is critical in devising strategies to avoid the worst effects of climate change as well as devising strategies for adapting to a different climate. The EPA’s report primarily describes trends within the United States but also includes global trends to provide a basis for comparison.

The report includes some very sobering statistics of how climate change is affecting a range of things like temperature, precipitation, sea levels, and extreme weather. Knowing these trends now can greatly help in the future as we grade ourselves on efforts that we undertake to address climate change.

For More click HERE

April 28, 2010 at 9:19 AM Leave a comment

CO2 at new highs despite economic slowdown

Carbon dioxide, measured at Norway’s Zeppelin station on the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, rose to a median 393.71 parts per million of the atmosphere in the first two weeks of March from 393.17 in the same period of 2009, extending years of gains.

“Looking back at the data we have from Zeppelin since the end of the 1980s it seems like the increase is accelerating” Johan Stroem, of the Norwegian Polar Institute, said of the data compiled with Stockholm University.

The rise in concentrations, close to an annual peak before carbon-absorbing plants start to grow in the northern hemisphere spring, was below the average gain over the year of around 2 parts per million.

“It still confirms the rise,” Stroem said of the data from the first two weeks of March supplied to Reuters. Concentrations vary from week to week depending on the source of Arctic winds.

Carbon concentrations have risen by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution ushered in wider use of fossil fuels. A 2009 study of the ocean off Africa indicated carbon levels in the atmosphere were at their highest in 2.1 million years.

Recession in 2009 in many nations has not apparently affected gains. The International Energy Agency estimated in September that emissions of carbon dioxide would fall about 2.6 percent in 2009 because of a decline in industrial activity.

Concentrations can keep rising since each carbon molecule emitted typically lingers in the atmosphere for many years. The U.N. panel of climate scientists says the rise will cause more floods, mudslides, heatwaves, sandstorms and rising sea levels.


The data “seem to show that we continue to emit as if there was no tomorrow,” Kim Holmen, director of research at the Norwegian Polar Institute, said of the carbon readings.

The build-up of carbon dioxide, also recorded since the late 1950s in measurements from a Hawaiian mountaintop, is one of the strongest elements of climate scientists’ case that mankind is to blame for global warming.

Skeptics have cast doubt on the science since leaks of e-mails from a British university last year appeared to show that some climate researchers are intolerant of alternative views.

The U.N. panel of climate scientists, itself under fire for errors including an exaggeration of the pace at which Himalayan glaciers are melting, says it is more than 90 percent sure that human activities are causing global warming.

Carbon concentrations at Svalbard peak in April after rotting plants release the gas through the winter — land areas in the northern hemisphere are far bigger than in the south. Levels decline when plant growth resumes in the northern spring.

Stroem said there were signs that the rise in concentrations in late winter was becoming bigger than in late summer. He speculated that could be a side-effect of global warming.

A gradual shrinking of ice and snow cover in the Arctic summer, he said, might mean more plants were able to grow and so absorb carbon, masking the rise in atmospheric carbon. The death of some of the extra vegetation in winter added to emissions.

Click HERE for article

March 16, 2010 at 9:20 AM 1 comment

Engine Emissions

Most people are familiar with automobile air emissions. Perhaps one day there will only be electric cars and no car air emissions. But there are many on other engines in use by commercial and industrial operations that may cause air emissions. In general these are called reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE). On February 17, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that will further reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants from existing diesel powered stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines.

EPA estimates that there are more than 900,000 of these engines that generate electricity and power
equipment at industrial, agricultural and other facilities. Industrial facilities use these engines to generate electricity for compressors and pumps as well as grind wood and crush stone. They also are used in emergencies to produce electricity to pump water for flood and fire control.

Diesel oil when burned will emit small amounts of unburnt organic material. These might include formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein, and methanol. The intent of the new rules is to further reduce these types of air emissions.  These toxic air pollutants, also known as hazardous air pollutants or air toxics, are those pollutants known or suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects.

Operators of non-emergency engines will be required to add on additional control devices to reduce these air emissions by as much as 70%. Selected engines will also have to be of a certain horsepower and age.

All regulated engines will also have to burn ultra low sulfur fuel oil. Burning such a fuel will reduce diesel particulates air emissions that are formed as sulfates.

For More click HERE

February 19, 2010 at 11:36 AM Leave a comment

Samsung Pledges 4.3 Billion to be Eco-friendly by 2013

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is going beyond its recycling programs to become an eco-conscious leader by 2013. On July 20, Samsung announced its “Eco-Management 2013” plan, which includes ensuring that 100% of Samsung products are eco-friendly and exceed global green standards.  Their plans also include greening their manufacturing facilities.

The initiative emphasizes increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions at manufacturing plants, overall lower-carbon economic growth, eco-management plans and developing green partnerships with suppliers.

The management vision, “Creating New Value Through Eco-Innovation,” includes a “Planet First” focus, demonstrating Samsung’s new commitment to environmentally conscious decisions and using technology towards innovation that serves the environment in a better way.

Click HERE for article

Samsung Electronics’ vice chairman and CEO Yoon-Woo Lee said this new plan applies to all global operations, supply chain, and complete lifecycle of products.

“As a leading global technology company, Samsung Electronics has always taken our environmental responsibilities very seriously, but today we are committing to becoming a truly green enterprise that places eco-management at the very heart of our business decision-making and growth,” he said.

Samsung intends to increase the energy efficiency of its TVs, refrigerators and air conditioning systems. Each product will be evaluated on energy efficiency and the use of recyclable and eco-friendly materials. Each product must exceed Samsung’s internal Good Eco-Product criteria, which Samsung says go beyond basic industry requirements, meet global eco-mark standards and require eco-friendly features.

This is another example of a major manufacturer taking a green stance and taking action.  Moving beyond just words on a page and putting a plan in place towards actual change.   I think we could all learn by Samsung and put our own eco-friendly plan in place for change in our own lives.

December 9, 2009 at 10:18 AM Leave a comment

Smog Shocker: smog down almost 50% in 2009

If you think there’s less smog this year, you are probably right. Thanks in large part to cooler temperatures and more rain, the number of dirty-air days for smog nationwide has dropped by almost half in 2009 compared to last year, according to a survey by the non-profit Clean Air Watch.


The survey by Clean Air Watch volunteers is the first comprehensive snapshot of smog in the United States in 2009. It found that the national health standard for smog, technically ozone, was breached more than 2,600 times through August 31 at monitoring stations in 37 states and the District of Columbia. During the same period last year, there were more than 5,000 such events, known in the jargon of the bureaucracy as “exceedences.” There were several key factors in the smog drop, according to Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch: cooler, wetter weather, less use of coal-burning electric power plants to run air conditioners, the general decline in the economy, and the continuing turnover of cars and trucks to new models that meet tougher clean-air requirements.

“Despite the improvement, we can’t afford to drop our efforts to reduce smog-forming pollution,” O’Donnell said. “We can’t count on rain to wash the pollution away. Scientists warn that global warming could make it harder to achieve clean-air standards in the future. And, obviously, a sick economy is not the right cure for dirty air.”

Clean Air Watch is urging the EPA to take further steps to reduce ozone-forming pollution, including: Setting new requirements to reduce smog-forming pollution from coal-fired power plants; Following through with tougher pollution standards for ocean-going ships, whose emissions can reach far into inland areas; Rejecting efforts by one diesel engine maker to delay new truck pollution standards; and Rejecting efforts to pemit higher levels of smog-forming corn-based ethanol in gasoline. O’Donnell noted that the statistics likely underestimate the full extent of the smog problem.

The standard – 75 parts per billion, set by the EPA in 2008 – is weaker than the levels recommended by EPA’s scientific advisers. Clean Air Watch is encouraging the Obama administration to set a tougher national health standard in accord with the latest health research. Ozone, commonly described as smog, can trigger asthma attacks, send people to hospital emergency rooms and shorten lives.

Even though there were fewer dirty-air days overall, the survey of public web sites found monitored readings of harmful smog levels in states from coast to coast – from Washington and California to New Hampshire, Maine and Florida. As in past years, the most severe problems generally have been in California. The smog problems are unrelated to the hazardous smoke pollution created by the California wildfires.

For More Click HERE

December 4, 2009 at 10:13 AM Leave a comment

Europe Bypassed on Climate Summit

No political entity has pushed harder for the Copenhagen conference on climate change to succeed than the European Union.

But just days before the opening of the United Nations-sponsored meeting, the Europeans have been largely pushed to the sidelines, watching as the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, China and the United States, seek to set the rules of the game.

“That’s of course the unfortunate situation for Copenhagen,” said Jo Leinen, a German member of the European Parliament who is leading the chamber’s delegation to the conference that is intended to follow up on the soon-to-expire Kyoto Protocol. “It’s turning into a bit of a ping-pong match between China and the United States, with each just looking at the other,” he said.

Europeans say they have gone further than anybody else in moving toward a low-carbon economy that could serve as a model for the rest of the world. But the bloc’s ability to exercise global influence through progressive standards and moral leadership, rather than through superpower status, is facing a key test.

“The E.U. frankly doesn’t have the political clout to determine the outcome at Copenhagen,” said Peter Haas, a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The E.U. still has much at stake in Copenhagen, however. It is facing huge pressure, Mr. Haas added, to “keep the prospects of a global deal alive so that European business leaders and voters believe they are on track to take advantage of green technology markets of the future.”

That will be a challenge. The E.U. remains internally divided on key issues, among them how much to pay developing countries to limit emissions and how deeply to cut their own output.

For full story click HERE

December 3, 2009 at 10:24 AM Leave a comment

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