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 …

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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 …

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Close-up of pumping unit in mountainous oil field

New California Bill Aims to Restore Local Governments’ Ability to Limit or Ban Certain Oil and Gas Extractions

As reported to our readers in August 2023, the California Supreme Court in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. County of Monterey, (2023) Cal. LEXIS 4349, struck down a Monterey County initiative that would have banned oil and gas drilling and imposed stiff restrictions on oil and gas developments in the county. The decision brought an end to nearly 7 years of litigation concerning Chevron’s San Ardo Oil Field with its over 530 million in estimated ultimate recovery of oil is California’s eight-largest oil field.

A new …

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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 …

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EPA Offices, Washington DC

Fifth Circuit Tells EPA 40-Year-Old Fluorination Process isn’t ‘New’

Inhance Technologies is a company that has been fluorinating plastic containers using the same process since 1983. The fluorination process creates a barrier that keeps dangerous substances from leaching out of their containers, and keeps outside substances from permeating in. The U.S. EPA began investigating Inhance after the presence of perfluoroalkyls (PFAS) was detected in an insecticide that was stored in a container fluorinated by Inhance.

After confirming that Inhance’s fluorination process resulted in the creation of PFAS, the EPA issued Inhance a Notice of Violation …

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Close-up of exhaust fan on factory roof

EPA’s Final EtO Rule Finally Finalized

The Environmental Protection Agency on March 14 announced final amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) applicable to 90 large commercial sterilization facilities that use ethylene oxide (EtO), a chemical to which long-term exposure can cause cancer or other serious injury.

The EtO rulemaking process has engendered some criticism – most dramatically in lawsuits filed against the EPA by advocates representing neighbors of EtO facilities who claim the rulemaking process was too little too late (covered by ELM here). But …

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celandic Landscape of geothermal power plant

Some Like It Hot: Geothermal Energy May Become a Watershed Clean-Energy Source

Chevron is part of a group of old-school fossil-fuel companies investing hundreds of millions of dollars into geothermal-energy projects aiming to use fracking-type technology to find and access underground heat — heat that might very well become the world’s most-stable source of clean power. 

In sufficient quantities, underground heat can be used to generate a consistent source of carbon-free electricity, making it superior to both wind and solar power, both of which suffer from issues of unreliability.

While finding suitable heat sources in places with …

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New Zealand flag

New Zealand Supreme Court Allows Private Plaintiff’s Novel Climate Change Tort Claim to Go to Trial

The Supreme Court of New Zealand recently removed some significant roadblocks to bringing private law claims against major corporate greenhouse (GHG) emitters with a decision made in the case of Smith v. Fonterra.

The decision marks what is seen as one of the first occasions where a court in common law recognized the possibility that private lawsuits can be used to challenge the greenhouse emissions of a privately held company.

In its unanimous decision, the New Zealand court overturned a lower court’s earlier decision …

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Stack of papers paperwork on office desk table. With copy space.

New SEC Climate Disclosure Mandate Faces Pushback

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week approved the implementation of standardized climate disclosure rules (posted here) for publicly traded companies and in public offerings. No longer can companies simply post potential risks on their websites or through emails; rather, they must now include them in official SEC filings such as annual reports and registration statements.

The overarching goal is intended to enhance transparency concerning how companies address environmental and climate threats. The SEC’s decision was also the result of investors’ demand for …

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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 …

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