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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, August 10, 2017
New California law gives air quality officials the power to quickly shut down polluters
Local air quality officials are gaining new powers to quickly stop polluters when they endanger people's health under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday. Source: Los Angeles Times, 8/7/17

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
How connected are humans to their environment?
Today many of us rely heavily on imports of goods, food and power and have lost much of our connection with our local environment. As a result we tend to consume more than our fair share of resources and generate more than our fair share of waste. But unless we suffer the direct consequences, often we are not aware of how disconnected we are from our own environment. Now a study has assessed the mechanisms that enable people to disconnect from their environment, and proposed a framework to measure connectedness in any part of the world. Source: EnvironmentalResearchWeb, 8/7/17

The farmer's new friend could be good for everyone: super-precise drones
When most urban people think of farming, it's some amalgam of American Gothic, John Deere tractors, Walker Evans's Dust Bowl photography, a ad, and a Levi's commercial. That image is steadily being updated to include the operation of drones. As Modern Farmer notes, the future of farming may include "insanely precise drones" delivering the specific amount of fertilizer that a plant needs to thrive. Source: Fast Company, 8/7/17

Thursday, August 3, 2017
Many states have adopted policies to encourage energy efficiency
As of July 2017, thirty states and the District of Columbia have adopted energy efficiency policies--either mandated requirements, voluntary goals, or pilot programs--designed to lower the growth of electricity consumption by using electricity more efficiently. Seven of these states have either created new or updated existing energy efficiency standards within the past year. Source: Energy Information Administration, 8/3/17

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
EU body takes aim at planned obsolescence in devices
A branch of the European Union is calling on stakeholders to improve the repairability of electronics and ferret out devices designed to have short lifespans. The European Parliament on July 4 voted to approve a resolution calling on the European Commission, member countries and producers to take steps to improve repairability. The resolution doesn't place any requirements into law. But it does signal the desire of the legislative body, which is directly elected by voters in each member country, to address the issue through future laws and voluntary programs. The parliament voted 662 to 32 to approve the resolution. The document seeks to have products built to last longer and made easier to repair. It suggests discouraging manufacturers from taking steps to prevent independent repair shops from making fixes, and it calls for spare parts to be made available. Among its long list of suggestions and requests, the document asks the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, to propose a EU-wide definition of planned obsolescence and to explore a system to test products for built-in obsolescence. It also calls for "better legal protection for 'whistleblowers' and appropriate dissuasive measures for producers." It addresses obsolescence for both hardware and software. Additionally, it calls on the commission to consider a voluntary labeling system informing consumers about a product's durability, eco-design features, upgradeability and repairability. Source: E-Scrap News, 7/13/17

Study confirms how lead got into Flint's water
Flint's pipes were only part of the problem in the city's water crisis. The absence of a water treatment -- called orthophosphate -- was a major contributor to lead contamination of Flint, Michigan's water supply, scientists confirmed recently in Environmental Science and Technology Letters. Omitting orthophosphate, which controls metal corrosion, caused lead embedded in the pipes to leach into the water. The results suggest Flint's public health emergency could have been prevented if this corrosion control had not been overlooked. Source: PBS Newshour, 8/1/17

Materials emitted by a water pipe-repair method may pose health risks, new safeguards and research needed
New research is calling for immediate safeguards and the study of a widely used method for repairing sewer-, storm-water and drinking-water pipes to understand the potential health and environmental concerns for workers and the public. Source: Purdue University, 7/27/17

Can some corporations become forces for good?
While publicly-held American corporations are responsible to shareholders to maximize profits, a growing group of businesses say they're approaching their enterprises differently, with an eye toward environmental sustainability and workers' rights. NewsHour Weekend's Christopher Booker reports on B Corps, a classification of businesses that are attempting to incorporate social responsibility into their money-making practice. Source: PBS, 7/30/17

Who Invests in Energy Efficiency and Why?
This blog post is the second in a three-post series on understanding and increasing investments by businesses and individuals in energy efficiency. In the first post, we discussed current energy efficiency investments in the United States, which we estimate total about $60-115 billion per year. This number includes investments driven by policy, private market investments, and a mix of the two. In this post, we explore who invests in energy efficiency and why, focusing on mainstream businesses and consumers. The third and final post will build on the first two and discuss approaches that could increase efficiency investments in the future. Source: ACEEE, 7/24/17

How many billions do US businesses and individuals invest in energy efficiency each year?
Energy efficiency investments occur in virtually every sector of the economy. When combined, their total number is substantial -- estimates range from about $60 to $115 billion a year in the United States. In this post, we look at some recent estimates of energy efficiency spending, updating and expanding information we compiled earlier this year so that we may better understand the magnitude of these investments and where they occur. These findings provide a foundation for two subsequent posts we will publish in the next month on "Who invests in energy efficiency and why?" and "How can we increase energy efficiency investments?" Source: ACEEE, 7/18/17

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Key Takeaways from the NYC Food Waste Fair
More than 1,200 attendees and nearly 80 exhibitors gathered together at the NYC Food Waste Fair yesterday in Brooklyn, N.Y., to discuss the issue of food waste. Source: Waste360, 7/26/17

How a union bottle line worker revolutionized recycling for MillerCoors breweries
Kelly Harris' waste diversion plan helped eight of MillerCoors' major breweries earn landfill-free verification from NSF International in 2016. Harris also changed the culture at his Trenton, Ohio, brewery to such a degree that it reuses or recycles more than 99% of all its by-products. Source: New York Daily News, 7/26/17

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