Pollution & Health

National Land Use/Smart Growth Policy Coming Soon?

If local governments have maintained control over one policy area, it is land use. Despite tinkering around the edges, states have mostly stayed out, and for good political reasons: land use is the most visible policy that affects people at the local level. But if the Obama Administration moves forward to regulate greenhouse gases, that …

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Chocolate Coated Coal?

The Associated Press reports that Lindt USA (that’s right, the chocolate company) and Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) served up a new form of fuel on Tuesday when they mixed 18 tons of crushed cocoa bean shells with 600 tons of coal to power an electric power plant.  The shells are a byproduct of chocolate production, …

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Why is GM using taxpayer funds to fight clean car progress?

Just back from a weekend conference where climate litigator Matthew Pawa gave a keynote address.  He’s one of the lawyers who successfully defended California’s right to demand that automakers make cars that limit their greenhouse gas emissions, calling and cross-examining witnesses in a dramatic 2007 trial that put climate change science on the stand.  In …

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The importance of outside advisors and career staff

Dan posted recently about the decision remanding EPA’s latest revision of the particulate NAAQS, American Farm Bureau v. EPA. One thing that struck me reading the decision is the powerful role played not only by outside advisory groups but also by career agency staff. Even if they are overridden by the political decisionmakers, the views …

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Another Posthumous Loss for the Bush EPA

Greenwire Reports: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that U.S. EPA’s 2006 standards for fine particulate matter were, “in several respects, contrary to law and unsupported by adequately reasoned decisionmaking.” At issue was the rule that kept the primary standard for annual fine particulate matter at 15 micrograms per …

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Supreme Court Denies Cert. in Mercury Case

The Supreme Court has declined to review a lower court opinion striking down the Bush Administration’s regulation of mercury.  This isn’t a huge surprise since the Obama Admimistration indicated that the lower court opinion was consistent with its own regulatory policy, leaving only the industry to seek revieew.  The lower court opinion is one of …

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Mary Nichols gets mad

Amid the general relief that California’s legislature has finally passed a budget, our state’s (and nation’s?) chief air & climate conscience makes some serious objections: California’s proposed budget contains a major provision that would weaken air pollution regulations while saving the construction industry millions of dollars. The measure, largely overlooked in a public debate focused on …

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And the Beat Goes On . . .

Two recent reports drive home the fact that phasing-out harmful chemicals is typically only the beginning of effective chemical policy rather than the end.  Methyl bromide, widely used in the last decade as a fumigant in California and elsewhere, is a toxic volatile organic compound and is ozone-depleting to boot.  Although efforts are underway to …

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CO2 and the Clean Air Act

New EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has granted the Sierra Club’s petition to reconsider a memorandum issued by outgoing Administrator Stephen Johnson in December. Almost two years after the Supreme Court declared, in Massachusetts v. EPA, that CO2 is an “air pollutant” for purposes of the Clean Air Act, this announcement, paired with the decision to …

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The future of coal-fired electric power

Tomorrow’s New York Times has an interesting article on the future of coal-fired electric power in the United States. Coal is responsible for fully 20% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.  “Clean coal,” meaning coal plants that result in no net emissions of carbon dioxide,  would be possible only …

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