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In the News : New US Ozone Standard Takes Effect

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 @ 02:06 PM

epa_logo-resized-600.jpgOn October 1, 2017, a new ozone standard took effect in the US amid widely differing opinions. In late 2014, the EPA had proposed lowering the ozone standard to a between 65 to 70 from the current standard of 75 ppb (set in 2008 under the Bush administration). Public discussion was heated with many groups urging the EPA to maintain the existing standard. On October 1, 2015, under a court-ordered deadline, the EPA finalized the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) standard at 70 ppb.

This was not the end of the discussion however. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Association, who said that the rules would be a huge burden and that the cost to comply could be in the billions, filed for a review to challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  At the same time, five states filed a lawsuit challenging EPA's new 70 ppb ozone standard, with four additional states later joining them Earlier this year, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA’s motion to indefinitely stay the lawsuit to give them the necessary time to review the data and the standard.

With all of this going on for the part 2 years, the EPA, now under the Trump administration, had initially sought to delay the rule. However, after lawsuits were filed by 16 state attorney generals, the EPA declined to delay the rule, which took effect on October 1, 2017. On July 20th, the House passed HR-806 by a vote of 229 to 199. Also known as the Ozone Standards Implementation Act, the bill would double the time frame under which the EPA reviews the ozone standard (from 5 yrs to 10 yrs) and also gives the EPA the ability to consider factors other than human health. This bill now sits in the Senate.

Why is this important?  Michael Greenhouse,co-author of a report issued by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute spoke to Forbesabout the importance of these regulations, stating, “Our research shows that efforts to reduce ozone extend lifespans. While previous research had suggested this, the especially novel finding here is that pollution reductions lead to significant reductions in the purchase of medications that protect people from becoming sick or even dying prematurely … The implications for air pollution policy are potentially enormous.”

The new regulations have a large impact on the number of areas in the US that now are noncompliant. According to the EPA, 28 counties were classified as nonattainment areas under the 75 ppm standard and data sugegsts 241 counties violate the 70 ppb standard. 

US 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Areas at 70ppb
Projected 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Areas in U.S. under 70 ppb Standard

The democrats from House Department on Energy and Commerce share the dissenting views on the HR-806. The National Parks Conservation Association statement claimed, "This legislation would actually systematically weaken the Clean Air Act without a single improvement, undermine Americans’ 46-year right to healthy air based on medical science, and delay life-saving health standards already years overdue."

 

Clearly, there are strong and widely varying opinions on how best to proceed. It will be interesting to hear the Senate discussions if this comes up for debate.

 

 

Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Air Pollution, Emission Standards, News

In the News : Hypoxia Training with the Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Tue, Aug 01, 2017 @ 11:24 AM

Several Air Force bases in the United States have recently unveiled their new Reduced Oxygen Breathing Devices (ROBD). The ROBD simulates altitude exposure and can be utilized for both research and training purposes. The U. S. Armed Forces use the ROBD 2 to train aircrew to recognize the signs and symptoms of hypoxia and to perform the appropriate emergency procedures. Congratulations to these sites on their new facilities!

Scott Air Force Base

"The ROBD will be used by Airmen assigned to 375th Air Mobility Wing, 932nd Airlift Wing, and 126th Air Refueling Wing who routinely fly at altitudes requiring supplemental oxygen."

(375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs; U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman Daniel Garcia)

 

Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Air Pollution, Emission Standards

This Week in the News : Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 @ 08:31 AM

This week, the US House of Representative's Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee discussed H.R. 806, known as the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017. HR 806 was introduced on February 1, 2017 by Pete Olson, the Representative for Texas's 22nd congressional district and cosponsored by Mr. Flores, Mr. Latta, Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Cuellar, Mr. Scalise, Mr. Costa, Mr. Cramer, Mr. Long, Mr. Jenkins of West Virginia, Mr. Burgess, Mr. Renacci, Mr. Hensarling, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Bucshon, Mr. Johnson of Ohio, Mr. Weber of Texas, and Mr. Babin. CT AT.jpg

According to the bill, the goal is "to facilitate efficient State implementation of ground-level ozone standards, and for other purposes." One of the key changes is in the timeline for review the guidelines for all criteria air pollutants of the national ambient air quality standards. Currently, the standard must be reviewed every 5 years. This bill aims to change this to every 10 years. Another change which reflects the overall theme heard from EPA Administroator Pruitt is within the "plan submissions and requirements for ozone non attainment areas" section. The phrase "and economic feasibility" is proposed to be added. This parallel's the new administration's statements that they want to remove the burden on businesses to meet regulation standards.

The Senate is considering a bill in parallel that states the same changes. This is S. 263: Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, introduced by ShelleyMr. Flake, Mr. Manchin, Mrs. Fischer, Mr. Cornyn, and Mr. Inhofe. Also introduced on February 1, the bill was considered by Clean Air and Nuclear Safety on May 23rd.

To learn more about the health effects of ozone, check out the US EPA's ozone page or the Health Effects of Ozone published by the European Environment Agency. To follow these bills, you can request email alerts for either HR 806 or S263.

 

Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Air Pollution, Emission Standards

This Week in the News : US EPA Budget Hearings

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 @ 09:14 AM

This week, the US House of Representative's Appropriations Subcommittee held hearings to discuss President Trump’s 2018 budget request for the EPA. Newly appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruit testified before the subcommittee regarding the proposed 30% cut to the EPA budget and the impact this might have both in terms of funding for various projects as well as the workforce reduction. The hearing lasted about two hours, with Representatives from both parties asking Administrator Pruitt questions about the cut. The main focus was the impact such cuts would have on the local and regional air, water and land pollution protection/cleanup programs that exist within their districts.

What are your thoughts?

Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Air Pollution, Emission Standards

Air Quality and the Paris Agreement

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Fri, Sep 09, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

800px-Beijing_smog_comparison_August_2005-resized-600.png

As we end the summer, this year is expected to be the hottest on record for the second year in a row. Climate change is on the forefront of President Obama's mind in his final months in office. Last week, he delivered paperwork commiting the US to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gas pollution to about a quarter below the levels from 2005 by 2025. Likewise, China , the leading producer of greenhouse gas, has committed to a halt in emissions by 2030. A large part of this decrease has been attributed to the reduction in coal consumption.

The Paris agreement now has been signed by 55 countries, responsible for over 55% of the global pollution, and it is expected to take effect this November. It remains to be determined how the agreement will be implemented. Clinton is likely to follow the lead of President Obama. It is less likely that Trump would continue on this path since he has voiced his opinion that global warming is not real.

Once it takes effect, countries are expected to self-regulate. This would include reporting levels as well as actions and activities that are being conducted to meet the agreed upon levels. While the UN is unable to enforce commitment to the agreement, countries that fail to live up to the standards could leave themselves open to embargoes or other trade related sanctions. In the end, following through on the agreement is entirely voluntary.

With the Paris agreement in the news, air quality monitoring will continue to be a key issue going forward.

 

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Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Air Pollution, ambient air calibrator, Emission Standards, European Union Emissions

In the News - US EPA Presents Clean Power Plan

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 @ 12:09 PM

in the newsOn June 2, following an announcement by President Obama, the US EPA presented the Clean Power Plan, "a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plant" with the stated goal of maintaining "an affordable, reliable energy system" while reducing pollutants that are harmful to people as well as the environment."

Throughout the US, power plant emissions account for roughly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, there are no national guidelines to limit carbon pollution levels, though the levels of other toxins, including arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particles, are restricted.  In the US, CO2 emissions account for 82% of all green house gas emisions, according to data reported by the EPA from 1990-2012.

us epaAlthough the mandate is set at the federal level, the guidelines give states the ability to establish their own internal goals and to design a program based on their specific needs and capabilities.  These plans must be submitted to the EPA by June 2016. Each state's plan must have enforceable limits, and must include how the levels will be reported and monitored.  There must also be a method for corrective actions for those who fall short. The EPA will require biannual reporting of the state's progress.

Once the plan is accepted, states have to reach interim goals by 2020 and have until 2030 to meet the final goal of a 30% decrease in carbon emissions from the levels reported in 2005. To put that in perspective, that is equal to the emissions from powering 65 million homes, roughly half of the homes in America.

In addition to the 30% reduction in carbon emissions, the Clean Power Plan will also result in the reduction of particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent.  Consumers should also benefit from a roughly 8 percent decrease in their electric bills due to increased energy efficiency and reduced demand in the electricity system.

 

 

To read the plan or to learn more, visit the US EPA's Clean Power Plan sitePublic Hearings are to be held during the last week of July. 

Share your thoughts on the new plan below.

Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Air Pollution, air quality, Emission Standards

US Regulation of Wood-burning and Indoor Air Pollution

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 @ 01:39 PM

winterRecently, the US EPA released their final proposal to update the new source performance standards (NSPS) for new woodstoves and heaters, and to add NSPS for the first time for pellet stoves, furnaces, hydronic heaters, and masonry heaters.   The measures, if approved, would take effect in 2015.  The report states, "Emissions from wood stoves occur near ground level in residential communities across the country, and setting these new requirements for cleaner stoves into the future will result in substantial reductions in exposure and improved public health."

Wood heaters release smoke which increases the levels of various pollutants into the air.  These include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide and particles (soot), all of which cause serious health concerns.  Those at greatest threat are children, the elderly and those with breathing conditions such as allergies, asthma, emphysema or other lung diseases. 

The proposal states that the tighter regulation will mean heaters burn 80% cleaner than those on the market today. Consumers will see cost savings due to lower fuel consumption and in projected health cost savings.  The total benefits are estimated to be $1.8 to $2.4 billion annually.The proposal is open for comment for 90 days and a public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 26, 2014.  To read the proposal, visit the EPA's website.

While these regulations aim to improve air quality in the US, scientists in India are striving to improve the conditions in India.  In 2012, India was ranked as having the worst air quality of the countries studied and in 2013 they ranked second to last.  Outdoor air pollution led to approx. 165,000 deaths in 2008 (up from ~141,000 in 2004) while internal air pollution claimed ~500,000 in 2004 according to World Health Organization figures.

The largest single source of these pollutants is the traditional cooking stoves, known as chullas.  One can find a chulla, which burns wood, remains of crops or dung, in more than 100 million Indian households.  A high level of smoke is generated due to poor fuel consumption.  The stoves use a great deal of fuel and the required cook times are long.  Since the cooking is done in the home, the poor indoor air quality effects women and children, who spend more time in the home, the most.  Scientists compared daily use of the traditional chulla to smoking 40 cigarettes a day. 

annapurna

In addition, the environmental impact is high due both to the high consumption of wood as a fuel and the output of toxic smoke. 

Development of a move efficient stove aims to help.  These stoves, sold under the name Annapurna.  In Hinduism, Annapurna is the goddess of food and cooking, and in Sanskrit, the name Anna means “food” and purna means “filled completely.”

The Annapurna stoves have better combustion, require less fuel and cook more quickly, all leading to reduced pollution.  These stoves can run on electricity or can be set up to use a solar charged battery.   The efficiency of the stove comes from the addition of a small fan that draws air into the combustion chamber.  The manufacturer had the stove tested by accredited laboratories and saw a 50% decrease in fuel needs, a 70% decrease in smoke and a 50% decrease in cooking time.  Small changes such as this will make a large impact in the effort to improve air quality throughout India.  annapurna stove

To see a news story about this technology, check out this video from The Time of India.

Tags: USA Emissions, State of the Air, Air Pollution, air quality, Emission Standards

News - EPA releases a series of PSAs on Climate Change

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 @ 10:56 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency of the United States (US EPA) recently released a series of 30 sec US EPA ambient and 1 minute public service videos on climate change. The videos discuss small changes people can make to their daily lives that have an impact on emissions. Citizens are encouraged to reduce the amount of energy they use to both cut their own utility costs and protect their health.  The cumultive effect of these small changes to the economy and environment are stressed. The series was developed in support of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, released in June.  In his plan, the President stressed the importance of reducing carbon pollution while simultaneously prepareing for the impacts of changes to the climate.

What do you think?  Do you give thought to how your actions may impact the climate?  What things do you do at work and home to minimize your carbon "footprint."

You can watch the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBhfkkujnoRAgTFtLreccWDfpxBIspCGv

Tags: USA Emissions, ozone, EPA, Air Pollution, air quality, Ambient Air calibration, Emission Standards

American Lung Association Releases "State of the Air" App

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 @ 10:40 AM

Here in CT, we are entering the months where unhealthy air quality emerges with the heat levels this summer.  The American Lung Association has released an new advertising campaign featuring TV, online and billboard ads announcing the new State of the Air® smartphone application.  The app, available for iPhone and Android, allows users to view EPA collected data on the air quality at their current location or at any other location of choice.  Read this post to learn more about this data.  The app is being praises as a user-friendly resource for people for low air quality affects most profoundly, those living with lung disease (such as asthma, people with heart disease or diabetes and the elderly and children.

ALA of the Northeast President and CEO, Jeff Seyler, was quoted to say, “We are excited to be able to provide this innovative tool so those with lung disease, and without, can effectively monitor their local air quality and limit their exposure to dangerous levels of pollution.”

The State of the Air app provides both the current and next-day air quality forecasts.  Users can set alerts to notify them when the local air quality fails to a code orange, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups.  Along with the quality information, the app provides tips on what activities are to be avoided depending on the current conditions.State of the Air ALA

The television and online messages are aimed at young people.  They feature Alvin Grimes, an air collector, who collects air samples in glass jars.  The promos tie into the ALA tagline "What are your lungs collecting?"  "Alvin" has his own, twitter account and facebook page where he shares tips and information on air and air pollution.  The TV spots can be viewed on his youtube page (one example below).


To learn more about Ozone and how it is generated at ground level, check out this story and its follow-up piece!

Image and Video - courtesy of the American Lung Association

Tags: USA Emissions, Environics Inc, ozone, EPA, State of the Air, Air Pollution, air quality

EPA Releases First Clean Air Act Standard for Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Tue, Apr 03, 2012 @ 09:22 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a standard for carbon pollution from new power plants, as required by the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling regarding the Clean Air Act. 

EPA logo resized 600

This is the first Clean Air Act standard to address power plant carbon emissions.  The carbon pollution standard, now open to public comment, reflects the existing move in to building plants that use clean-burning and take advantage of more efficient  technologies. It also allows for the use of new technologies that will emit less carbon pollution but still burn coal.  It is important to note that this standard applies only to new generating units, not those already operating, being built or that will begin construction within the next year.

Speaking about the proposal, EPA Administrator said, “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids.”

The proposed standard gives a good deal of flexibility, and it can be met by facilities using a variety of methods, including natural gas technologies and coal with implementation of emissions reducing technologies. Since existing plants and those being built within the year are not subject to this standard, EPA did not project any additional cost to comply with this standard.

A number of statements from legislators, environmental and health groups and business people have been released regarding this proposal.  Just a few of these are below.  To read more, please visit the EPA.

CongressRanking Member of the US House of Representative’s Committee on Energy and Commerce, Henry A. Waxman, released the following, “The proposal is a breakthrough. It sets achievable limits on dangerous carbon pollution, spurs investments in new clean energy technologies, and provides certainty for industry. And it shows the President is listening to scientists, not extremists who deny the existence of climate change. Today’s action will reduce pollution, make families healthier, promote innovation, and help us compete with China and other countries that are investing in clean energy.”

The Sierra Club urged its member’s to send messages to EPA Administrator Jackson to urge implementation of these protections, stating “For the first time ever, the Obama Administration and the EPA are proposing national limits on carbon pollution. Carbon pollution is linked not only to climate disruption, but also to significant health hazards like the smog that triggers asthma attacks. Right now, 158 million Americans live in counties with unacceptable air pollution levels. By supporting the EPA's effort for clean air, we can make sure they go the distance and put new protections in place.”

Ralph Izzo, Chairman and CEO of Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG), released a statement, “While we would have preferred that Congress enact legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA took an important step today in addressing the significant environmental threat posed by climate change. 

The Agency’s action establishes a logical and modest standard for new electric power plants and provides the industry with much needed regulatory certainty. The EPA provides a framework for the industry to confront this problem in a cost effective manner.

We understand that the EPA continues to evaluate regulatory options for already existing plants that may be affected by the Clean Air Act and we look forward to working with the Agency to evaluate the best approaches for achieving meaningful greenhouse gas reductions in as flexible and economic manner as possible.”

Subscribe to the Environics Post for updates on this and other EPA legislation!

(EPA Image - https://www.facebook.com/EPA)

(Congress Image - Wikipedia)

 

Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator, Announcement, Emission Standards