A view of the smoking chimneys of a coal-fired power plant against the backdrop of a dramatic sky with clouds.

Utilities Trying to Get EPA’s Hand Off Their Ash

In a world of solar power, green energy, and electric cars, it is sometimes surprising to consider how much of a political hot potato good ol’ fashioned coal remains.

There are more than 300 coal-fired power plants still active in the United States, annually producing roughly 100 tons of coal combustion residuals (CCR), or “coal ash.” This coal ash has historically and routinely been found to contain hazardous compounds — such as arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury — which are dangerous to plants and humans.…

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Maine State Flag in Blue Sky

Maine’s Difficulties Implementing its PFAS Law Could Foreshadow Similar Issues Nationwide

Maine recently delayed the January 2024 implementation of a first-of-its-kind law requiring manufacturers to disclose PFAS in products sold in the state, effectively banning PFAS in most such products by 2030. 

Manufacturers of products containing PFAS now have until January 2025 to report them. Meanwhile, Maine also created two reporting exemptions — one for businesses employing 25 or fewer people, and one when a sale involves a used product or component.

In response to the State Legislature’s action, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) suspended …

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Lithium ore

A Modern-Day Gold Rush – World’s Largest Lithium Mine Discovered in Nevada

A lithium mine has been discovered within the McDermitt Caldera, located along the Nevada-Oregon border. This finding is significant in that it may hold between 20 million and 40 million metric tons of this rare metal, which is nearly double the current record of approximately 23 million metric tons of lithium found this summer beneath a Bolivian salt flat. To put the magnitude of this finding further into perspective, the McDermitt Caldera is approximately 28 miles long and 22 miles wide.

Lithium is a chemical …

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EPA Offices, Washington DC

EPA Updates FOIA Regs to Promote Transparency and Affordability of Information Concerning Environmental Justice Issues

On September 7, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was updating its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations through its Phase II FOIA final rule. This “modernization,” is part of EPA’s continued efforts to advance transparency – here, by improving the EPA’s FOIA program through a renewed focus on accountability, affordability, and better access to information for communities of color with environmental justice concerns. The final rule is a wider part of the Biden Administration’s general promise to prioritize consideration of communities …

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Sun, Global warming from the sun and burning, heatwave hot sun, climate change

Oregon’s Multnomah County Sues Fossil Fuel Companies Seeking $50M for Purported “Heat Dome” Heatwaves

Oregon’s most populous county, and home to Portland, sued more than a dozen oil, gas, and coal companies for over $50 million in damages related to a 2021 “heat dome” the county alleges was caused by the defendants’ contributions to climate change.

Multnomah County, which filed the civil suit in June, is also seeking no less than $1.5 billion from the defendants to pay for potential damage from future extreme heat events, and another $50 billion to study, plan, and protect people and Oregon’s infrastructure …

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EPA Redefines ‘Waters of the United States’ to Conform with Supreme Court Decision

On August 29, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its final rule amending its definition of “waters of the United States.”  This new definition was written to conform with the Supreme Court’s May 24, 2023 ruling in Sackett v. EPA 598 U.S. _____(2023) (discussed in a previous blog here).  

The Sackett decision held in favor of the Sacketts, who wanted to build a home on an empty lot near a lake in Idaho. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the couple and held …

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Steel Beats Glass and Plastic, All Beat Paper: New Study Finds PFAS In Various Types Of Drinking Straws

A study published last week by the Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A journal — a journal that publishes on natural and man-made food additives and contaminants in food and the animal feed chain and is an affiliated journal of the International Society for Mycotoxicology — might make people think twice when selecting straws for their drinks.

The study — titled “Assessment of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in commercially available drinking straws using targeted and suspect screening approaches,” — makes some interesting findings on …

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View of world from 40000 feet, clouds and blue sea.

The Good, the Bad, the Ozone

Pop quiz: What is the naturally occurring gas that forms a life-sustaining, protective barrier when in the Earth’s stratosphere (15-30km above the surface), blocking harmful ultra-violet radiation reaching the planet from the sun?


Round two: What is the noxious gas that can cause wheezing, shortness of breath, and even permanent lung damage when produced by low-to-the ground industrial pollution?

Also, Ozone!

Yes, that same gas that we were all motivated and mobilized to restore into the sky back in the 80’s and 90’s has …

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People are holding banner signs while they are going to a demonstration against climate change

Montana Ruling May Preface Nationwide Increase in Judicial Environmental Mandates

In what could be the start of a national trend, a state court judge recently ruled that Montana’s government must do more to protect the state and its residents from climate change. 

State District Judge Kathy Seeley, citing a state constitutional right to a clean environment, ruled in favor of a group of youth plaintiffs and invalidated a pair of laws prohibiting state agencies from considering the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions. According to Judge Seeley, “[t]he degradation to Montana’s environment, and the resulting harm to Plaintiffs, …

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Massive California Wild Fire forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes, wildfires spreading rapidly, escaping to save their lives, destroyed silhouette, natural calamity

The Un-wilding of Wildfires: How We Have Added Fuel to the Flames

In their purest form, natural wildfires, most commonly caused by lightning strikes or volcanic activity, are a necessary part of the lifecycle in most ecosystems. They provide a number of important ecological benefits, such as reducing dead vegetation, stimulating new growth, and improving wildlife habitat. Indeed, a variety of plant and animal species depend on wildfires for their very survival.

However, in recent years, numerous countries, including the United States, have experienced significant wildfires that have moved far beyond these ecological benefits, leaving entire communities …

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