Black Friday, Woman holding many shopping bags while walking in the shopping mall background.

The Environmental Impact of Black Friday

Consumers spent a record $9.12 billion shopping online during Black Friday this year, and are expected to spend $210.1 billion this holiday season, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s an anticipated increase of 2.5 percent from 2021.

Each year, holiday shopping statistics prompt a look at the environmental impact of consumerism in the United States and around the world. Black Friday and the surge in spending during the holiday season, sparks conversation regarding environmental concerns involving waste, emissions, “fast fashion,” and most recently Environmental, Social and …

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Power Plant in the sunrise

Interior Department Aims to Crackdown on Gas Flaring on Public and Tribal Lands

ELM readers may remember our October 6th post detailing a study that found gas flaring actually releases much more methane into the atmosphere than previously thought. The emission of methane gas, given it is a potent greenhouse gas, contributes significantly to global warming.

Flaring is the process of burning excess natural gas at a well. Venting is the direct release of natural gas into the atmosphere. While some amount of venting and flaring is expected during oil and gas exploration and production operations, venting …

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Single wind turbine, a coal burning power plant with pollution and electricity pylons in the background.

Outsmarting Climate Change: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Greenhouse Gas Regulation

For nearly a decade, there has been a trend of decreasing industry greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions … that is, until now. According to the World Meteorological Organization, atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—all reached new record highs in 2021. In addition, these emissions have increased almost an additional 1% in the United States for 2022. Although the reason for this increase is not entirely clear, it is likely the result of both biological and human-induced processes, including a …

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semi truck driving

How New Emissions Standards Are Leading to Selfies with Trucks

Just a few weeks ago, in late October, trucking and manufacturing representatives from across the United States convened in San Diego for the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition to discuss the impact that new and pending emissions regulations will have on the trucking industry and its equipment market. The conference’s particular focus was on standards announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year, and on California’s Air and Resources Board’s (CARB) finalized Advanced Clean Trucks rule and proposed Advanced Clean Fleets …

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Oil Field Flares Release Much More Methane Emissions Than Previously Thought, A New Study Shows

Oil and gas manufacturers have long relied on a process known as “flaring” to limit the venting of natural gas from their refineries. Specifically, flaring is the process of burning natural gas escaping from oil and gas wells and aims at combusting the powerful greenhouse gas methane to minimize its emission. Flares are designed to eliminate 98% of the methane that passes through them, and that is the standard amount used when calculating the emissions they create. Burning methane through flaring as it is released thereby converts it to …

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First-of-its-kind Ethylene Oxide Verdict Awards Record Damages Against Defendant Sterigenics

On September 19, 2022, a Cook County (Illinois) jury awarded $363 million to 70-year-old plaintiff Susan Kamuda  in the first of many lawsuits against industrial sterilization company Sterigenics.  These lawsuits accuse the company of a reckless, decades-long pollution of Willowbrook, Illinois with ethylene oxide.  The jury in this case went beyond the damages requested by Ms. Kamuda, who lived within a quarter-mile of Sterigenics’ Willowbrook facility for more than 30 years.  While Ms. Kamuda only asked for $21 million in compensatory damages, the jury awarded …

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DC Circuit asked to say “ethaNO” to biofuel increases

Anything that reduces fuel emissions has to be good for the environment, right? WRONG!

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is facing precisely this seeming anomaly, being asked by the Center for Biological Diversity (“CBD”) this past Wednesday to “review” (read: “halt” or “stop”) the Biden administration’s fuel blending standards, which they claim are a risk to endangered species.

For context, we go back 17 years to when the EPA enacted the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which required transportation fuels like gasoline and diesel …

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SCOTUS to Decide Whether Congress or the EPA has the Power to Regulate Carbon Emissions – Part II

On the heels of oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court, we provide an update to a prior ELM post whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s has the ability to regulate carbon emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act. 

Various theories abound that the court could depend on to support its decision, which could have significant reverberating impacts.  Among the possibilities, from the most earth-shattering to the least are: (1) the non-delegation doctrine; (2) the major question doctrine; (3) statutory …

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New Year, New Vehicle Emissions Standards?

As 2021 came to a close and many Americans were setting their own standards and goals for 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency announced finalized revisions to national greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks. Overall, the new industry-wide average target will come out to roughly 40 miles per gallon by 2026. A reversal of the prior administration’s relaxation of fuel-emissions standards, the revised standards are the strictest federal greenhouse gas emissions requirements in history, and are seen as a fundamental part of …

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SCOTUS to Decide Whether Congress or the EPA has the Power to Regulate Carbon Emissions

On November 12, 2021, just as President Joe Biden prepared to travel to a major climate conference in Scotland with the intention of establishing America as a world leader in curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to a lower appellate court’s recent restoration of some of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority concerning carbon emissions. The challenge focuses on a provision of the Clean Air Act requiring the EPA to identify the “best system of emission reduction” for existing …

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