Legislative & Regulatory Update

EPA Tries to Regulate Airplane Emissions

Climate Change News - ENN - June 15, 2015 - 10:15am
The Environmental Protection Agency took its first steps toward regulating the greenhouse gas emissions that escape airplane engines and pollute the atmosphere. The EPA intends to update the Clean Air Act, which was first introduced in 1963, to include jurisdiction limiting the emissions from these plane engines.

How to minimize drought impact on food crops

Climate Change News - ENN - June 11, 2015 - 10:04am
The worldwide demand for legumes, one of the world’s most important agricultural food crops, is growing; at the same time, their production has been adversely affected by drought. In an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis research paper published today in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers provide information that could help agricultural planning and management to minimize drought-induced yield losses.

Tesla Superchargers vs. Battery Swap Stations, Superchargers win

Climate Change News - ENN - June 11, 2015 - 9:10am
They say the mark of a great company is knowing when to cut your losses and run. Well, it seems as though Tesla is on the verge of ditching its battery swap service which was launched with the Tesla Model S electric vehicle. The idea was that battery swap stations would be built across America allowing Tesla Model S users to book an appointment which will allow them to swap their discharged batteries for fully charged replacements.The idea seemed good and all Tesla Model S owners were contacted but only a few took up the company’s offer to visit the one and only battery swap station open to the public at the moment.

How studying volcanos can improve aviation safety

A study on ash blasted from volcanoes is a first step towards accurately assessing where it is safe to fly during eruptions, according to the authors. The researchers found that the ash grains ejected into the atmosphere have diverse shapes and properties. They also learned that big grains can travel further than was previously estimated. All this could improve existing models of ash concentrations, which governments and airlines use to make flight decisions during eruptions, they say. Ash can cause aircraft engines to fail.

How Pigeons organize for better navigation

Having a hierarchical social structure with just a few well-connected leaders enables pigeon flocks to navigate more accurately on the wing, new research shows.Hierarchical organisation also enables flocks to cope better with navigation errors made by individual birds.Researchers from Oxford University and the Zoological Society of London created 'virtual flocks' of homing pigeons to test how different social networks affect the navigation performance of these groups. The team's simulations looked at everything from no networks (all connections between individuals were of equal strength) to random networks (some connections were stronger than others but randomly distributed) to hierarchical networks with just a few well-connected individuals leading the way.

First Wave Energy Device in US Powers Hawaii Military Base

The first grid-connected wave energy device in North American waters started feeding renewable electricity to a Marine Corps base in Hawaii last week. In coordination with the U.S. Navy, Northwest Energy Innovations and the Energy Department brought online a prototype of the Azura wave energy converter (WEC) device. The one-of-a-kind, wave energy device is designed to generate electricity from the motion of the choppy waters at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay on Oahu. 

Evolution update

Evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould is famous for describing the evolution of humans and other conscious beings as a chance accident of history. If we could go back millions of years and "run the tape of life again," he mused, evolution would follow a different path. A study by University of Pennsylvania biologists now provides evidence Gould was correct, at the molecular level: Evolution is both unpredictable and irreversible. Using simulations of an evolving protein, they show that the genetic mutations that are accepted by evolution are typically dependent on mutations that came before, and the mutations that are accepted become increasingly difficult to reverse as time goes on.

Why are some states reducing EV incentives?

Climate Change News - ENN - June 7, 2015 - 8:33am
First of all we have to say that the vast majority of US state authorities are continuing with their current electric vehicle financial incentives, with many actually increasing the amount of funds available, but some states are struggling. Connecticut, Georgia, and Illinois are just three states in the US where electric vehicle financial incentives are being tapered down. Whether or not they are reintroduced in the future remains to be seen but budgets need to be balanced.Is this a reflection of the technology?It would be easy to say that we are yet again looking at a false dawn for the electric vehicle sector but this would be wrong. There has been enormous government and corporate investment in the industry and it is inconceivable to even suggest it will fade away into the background as it has done before. The simple fact is that many states across the US, and governments around the world, are struggling to balance their books during the current tight economic environment and schemes such as financial incentives to switch to electric vehicles are feeling the brunt.

Kansas City goes All-In for EV's

Climate Change News - ENN - June 6, 2015 - 9:05am
Even though there is a long way to go before electric vehicles are accepted by all motorists, there is no doubt that the Kansas City Power and Light company is putting Kansas City on the map. The company announced very interesting and very ambitious plans to install 1001 electric vehicle charging stations across the area which it serves. This is certainly a very interesting development at a time when advances in electric vehicle battery technology are hitting the headlines but consumers are still concerned about range anxiety.Will this move make a difference?As one executive put it “if you install the charging stations they will come” which just about sums it up. The $20 million “clean charging network” will consist of 1001 charging stations which will be able to charge two cars at the time. Not only will this encourage more electric vehicles in the region but it will also greatly help with charging at busy times of the day. The simple fact is that until somebody actually took the plunge and decided to install electric vehicle charging stations we would always be at the beck and call of electric vehicle battery technology.

Draining Greenland lakes unlikely to contribute to sea-level rise

Climate Change News - ENN - June 4, 2015 - 5:54pm
Each summer, Greenland’s ice sheet — the world’s second-largest expanse of ice, measuring three times the size of Texas — begins to melt. Pockets of melting ice form hundreds of large, “supraglacial” lakes on the surface of the ice. Many of these lakes drain through cracks and crevasses in the ice sheet, creating a liquid layer over which massive chunks of ice can slide. This natural conveyor belt can speed ice toward the coast, where it eventually falls off into the sea. In recent years, scientists have observed more lakes forming toward the center of the ice sheet — a region that had been previously too cold to melt enough ice for lakes to form.

Could genetically modified mosquitos prevent mosquito-borne illnesses?

Regulatory news - ENN - June 4, 2015 - 3:18pm
When people think of genetically modified organisms, food crops like GM corn and soybeans usually come to mind. But engineering more complex living things is now possible, and the controversy surrounding genetic modification has now spread to the lowly mosquito, which is being genetically engineered to control mosquito-borne illnesses.A U.K.-based company, Oxitec, has altered two genes in the Aedes aegypti mosquito so that when modified males breed with wild females, the offspring inherit a lethal gene and die in the larval stage. The state agency that controls mosquitos in the Florida Keys is awaiting approval from the federal government of a trial release of Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitos to prevent a recurrence of a dengue fever outbreak. But some people in the Keys and elsewhere are up in arms, with more than 155,000 signing a petition opposing the trial of genetically engineered mosquitoes in a small area of 400 households next to Key West. 

El Niños and Bunny Booms

Climate Change News - ENN - June 4, 2015 - 10:01am
At times during the past 10,000 years, cottontails and hares reproduced like rabbits and their numbers surged when the El Niño weather pattern drenched the Pacific Coast with rain, according to a University of Utah analysis of 3,463 bunny bones. The study of ancient rabbit populations at a Baja California site may help scientists better understand how mammals that range from the coast to the interior will respond to climate change, says anthropology doctoral student Isaac Hart. He is first author of the study to be published in the July issue of the journal Quaternary Research.

House Hearing Underscores Need for Regulatory Reform

Environmental Regulations - June 4, 2015 - 4:59am
Impacts for manufacturers are among key concerns.

ACC Welcomes Senate Hearing on EPA Ozone Proposal

Environmental Regulations - June 3, 2015 - 6:03am
Legislation will address implementation concerns.

ACC Welcomes House Committee Markup of TSCA Modernization Act of 2015

Chemical Safety - June 2, 2015 - 11:54am
More than 150 industry trade groups send letter supporting bill.

ACC Welcomes House Committee Markup of TSCA Modernization Act of 2015

Toxic Substances Control Act - June 2, 2015 - 11:54am
More than 150 industry trade groups send letter supporting bill.

Study relates influx of North American icebergs in Atlantic Ocean to increased methane production in tropical wetlands

A new study shows how huge influxes of fresh water into the North Atlantic Ocean from icebergs calving off North America during the last ice age had an unexpected effect – they increased the production of methane in the tropical wetlands. Usually increases in methane levels are linked to warming in the Northern Hemisphere, but scientists who are publishing their findings this week in the journal Science have identified rapid increases in methane during particularly cold intervals during the last ice age. These findings are important, researchers say, because they identify a critical piece of evidence for how the Earth responds to changes in climate.

Study relates influx of North American icebergs in Atlantic Ocean to increased methane production in tropical wetlands

Climate Change News - ENN - June 2, 2015 - 11:15am
A new study shows how huge influxes of fresh water into the North Atlantic Ocean from icebergs calving off North America during the last ice age had an unexpected effect – they increased the production of methane in the tropical wetlands. Usually increases in methane levels are linked to warming in the Northern Hemisphere, but scientists who are publishing their findings this week in the journal Science have identified rapid increases in methane during particularly cold intervals during the last ice age. These findings are important, researchers say, because they identify a critical piece of evidence for how the Earth responds to changes in climate.

Fusion energy breakthrough

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have for the first time simulated the formation of structures called "plasmoids" during Coaxial Helicity Injection (CHI), a process that could simplify the design of fusion facilities known as tokamaks. The findings, reported in the journal Physical Review Letters, involve the formation of plasmoids in the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions. These round structures carry current that could eliminate the need for solenoids - large magnetic coils that wind down the center of today's tokamaks - to initiate the plasma and complete the magnetic field that confines the hot gas."Understanding this behavior will help us produce plasmas that undergo fusion reactions indefinitely," said Fatima Ebrahimi, a physicist at both Princeton University and PPPL, and the paper's lead author. 

Advance in microscopy enables new understanding of proteins

One of the more famous images in biology is known as "Photo 51," an image of DNA that chemist Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling created in 1952 by shooting X-rays through fibers of DNA and analyzing the patterns they left behind on film.X-ray diffraction image of the double helix structure of the DNA molecule, taken in 1952. The image, famously known as "Photo 51," led to greater understanding of DNA and gave rise to the field of molecular biology. Image by Raymond Gosling/King's College London 

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