Ecological catastrophe

EPA Finalizes New Rule Requiring More Than 200 Chemical Plants to Reduce Toxic Emissions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced April 9 a set of final rules under sections 111 and 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to significantly reduce toxic air pollution from more than 200 chemical plants in the United States.

The plants affected make products such as synthetic organic chemicals, plastics, paints, synthetic fabrics, pesticides, petrochemical products, and various polymers and resins, including neoprene. The new rules strengthen protections for communities living near these industrial facilities, especially along the Gulf Coast, and it is anticipated …

Continue Reading
Flag of California

Appeals Court Rules Californi-missions Standards Can Stay High

It all started in the early 40’s, when the smog was so bad in California that visibility was measured in city blocks, and people suffered from nausea, stinging eyes, and difficulty breathing. By the 50’s, the California government had shut down some refineries and smoke-stack power plants, but the smog persisted. Finally, chemists discovered that some of California’s most famous and hallowed assets were combining with California’s disproportionate share of gas-powered cars to create the problem; the ubiquitous ‘golden’ sunshine was reacting with the compounds …

Continue Reading

EPA Issues Final Emission Standards

The Environmental Protection Agency announced March 20 final national pollution standards applicable to cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles. These standards apply to vehicles manufactured beginning in 2027. The new standards will be phased in on vehicles manufactured until 2032. 

The EPA estimates the new standards will avoid more than 7 million tons of carbon emissions. The standards also are estimated to provide over $100 billion in net benefits to society – including $62 billion in reduced fuel costs and $13 billion in public health …

Continue Reading
Flames rise from the flare stack towers in South Africa

Minimizing Methane: New Studies Find Methane Emissions Significantly Higher than Previously Thought

A new report by the International Energy Agency, released on March 13, found that for the third year in a row, methane released by the fossil fuel industry rose to an almost record high in 2023. 

Methane emissions are a significant contributor to global warming, second only to carbon dioxide. Although methane is better at trapping heat into the atmosphere, trapping almost 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide over a two-decade period, it is relatively short-lived, making it an attractive way to more efficiently …

Continue Reading
detail of white smoke polluted sky

Ethylene Oxide 2023 Year-End Round-Up!

Nearly ten months after settling over 870 Illinois-based Cook County ethylene oxide (EtO) exposure claims for $408 million (covered by ELM here), at the beginning of the final quarter of 2023, Sterigenics, one of the world’s largest commercial sterilizers, along with its parent company Sotera, agreed to settle 79 lawsuits relating to EtO emissions from the Sterigenics sterilizing plant in Cobb County, Georgia, for an estimated $35 million, submitting its settlement proposal to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in late October. Just as …

Continue Reading
EPA Offices, Washington DC

Lawsuits Claim EPA’s EtO Rules are Too Little, Too Late

Following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2016 finding that ethylene oxide (EtO), a highly effective chemical routinely used to sterilize medical devices and equipment, was significantly more hazardous than previously understood, individuals and shareholders began filing lawsuits against various EtO-using entities throughout the United States with no end in sight. At the end of last month, however, it was the EPA that became the legal target of furious environmental justice and health advocates acting on behalf of the communities the EPA is tasked to …

Continue Reading

Environmental Protection Agency Proposes New Air Emissions Reporting Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced July 25 proposed updates to its Air Emissions Reporting Requirements (AERR), including a proposal to require the reporting of hazardous air pollutants, or “air toxics” (substances known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health effects). This update seeks to provide the EPA with accessible data allowing it to identify locations in need of solutions for people exposed to harmful air pollution, which communities can use to understand sources of air pollution that may be affecting them ­– …

Continue Reading

California Hits Harder on Heavy Truck Emissions

On April 28, California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) approved new regulations which would phase out the sales of medium and heavy-duty combustion trucks in California by 2036. The goal is to fully transition existing fleets to zero-emissions vehicles by 2045.   

Known as the Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) regulation, the ACF is part of CARB’s latest initiative to accelerate California’s transition to zero-emission medium and heavy duty vehicles. The purpose of the regulation is to protect communities that are near trucking corridors and warehouse locations. Studies have shown …

Continue Reading
Handle fuel nozzle to refuel the car.

EPA Gives the Green Light to Ethanol for Summer Travel

The EPA on Friday granted a waiver of its traditional summer ban on the sale of gasoline with 15-percent ethanol — or “E15” — to continue mitigating the disruption of fuel commerce around the globe caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

Ethanol is made by fermenting the sugar in the starches of grains such as corn, sorghum, and barley, and the sugar in sugar cane and sugar beets. The vast majority of gasoline sold in the United States is “E10,” or gasoline with 10-percent ethanol …

Continue Reading
crypto mining

Crypto Mining Not Going Anywhere – Maybe Just Not How You Think

It has been a rough year for cryptocurrency mining. Just a year ago, the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing addressing the environmental effects of cryptocurrency mining, with a particular focus on the process’s use of energy and resulting high rates of emissions (covered by ELM here), but with a noticeable bent of optimism and openness from the presiding representatives who ran the panel. Millennial U.S. Congressman Ritchie Torres of New York even went so far as to declare: “With a multi-billion-dollar market …

Continue Reading