Legislative & Regulatory Update

Are the US drinking water standards outdated?

Climate Change News - ENN - January 14, 2015 - 9:15am
Changes in drinking water quality in the 21st Century are coming from a myriad of circumstances, and not all are for the best. Top contenders for why water-drinking quality might become suspect to the average consumer include California's drought conditions, the technology of fracking, and the nationwide aging infrastructure of rusty, degrading pipes.Citing these and other relatively recent scenarios, Andrea Dietrich, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, and her colleague Gary A. Burlingame of the Philadelphia Water Department, are calling for a critical review and rethinking of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) secondary standards for maintaining consumers' confidence in tap water as well as in its sensory quality.

How does rain cause that earthy odor?

Ever notice an earthy smell in the air after a light rain? Now scientists at MIT believe they may have identified the mechanism that releases this aroma, as well as other aerosols, into the environment.Using high-speed cameras, the researchers observed that when a raindrop hits a porous surface, it traps tiny air bubbles at the point of contact. As in a glass of champagne, the bubbles then shoot upward, ultimately bursting from the drop in a fizz of aerosols.The team was also able to predict the amount of aerosols released, based on the velocity of the raindrop and the permeability of the contact surface.

Britain brings back the battery-powered train

The first battery-powered train to run on Britain’s rail network in more than half a century is to enter passenger service this week. The pioneering engine marks an important milestone in the project to demonstrate the viability of an eco-friendly battery-powered train for the twenty-first century.

Melting Greenland ice sheet is biggest contributor to sea level rise

Climate Change News - ENN - January 13, 2015 - 8:01am
As the largest single chunk of melting snow and ice in the world, the massive ice sheet that covers about 80 percent of Greenland is recognized as the biggest potential contributor to rising sea levels due to glacial meltwater.Until now, however, scientists’ attention has mostly focused on the ice sheet’s aquamarine lakes — bodies of meltwater that tend to abruptly drain — and on monster chunks of ice that slide into the ocean to become icebergs.

Greatest concentrations of world's soil carbon pinpointed in peat bogs

Climate Change News - ENN - January 12, 2015 - 1:05pm
The greatest concentrations of the world's soil carbon have been pinpointed by researchers - and much of it is a dangerously flammable addition to climate change concerns. An international scientific survey of peat bogs has calculated that they contain more carbon than all the world's forests, heaths and grasslands together - and perhaps as much as the planet's atmosphere. Since peat can smoulder underground for years, it is another potential factor in global warming calculations.

ACC Urges House Passage of Regulatory Accountability Act

Environmental Regulations - January 12, 2015 - 12:36pm
We applaud Chairman Goodlatte and Congressman Peterson for their renewed efforts to modernize federal rulemaking.

Corals Threatened by Changing Ocean Conditions

Climate Change News - ENN - January 12, 2015 - 9:20am
The lowering of the ocean’s pH is making it harder for corals to grow their skeletons and easier for bioeroding organisms to tear them down. Erosion rates increase tenfold in areas where corals are also exposed to high levels of nutrients, according to a study published January 2015 in the journal Geology. As sea level rises, these reefs may have a harder time growing toward the ocean surface, where they get sunlight they need to survive.

Is meaningful action to address climate change possible given our economic systems?

Climate Change News - ENN - January 12, 2015 - 6:19am
It’s increasingly obvious that the global economic system, and particularly the current brand of U.S. capitalism, are not really compatible with the actions needed to combat climate change.Naomi Klein makes this point clear in “This Changes Everything,” which is both a passionate and controversial polemic and a reasoned discussion of the issues and forces stalling, and indeed preventing, a comprehensive response to climate change.The problem is not the political and ideological divisions or scientific “debate,” which are hard enough to deal with — it’s mainly about money, according to Klein. The book’s subtitle is compelling: Capitalism vs. The Climate. Simply put: “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.”

Why is the water found on comet Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko so different from Earth water?

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has found the water vapour from its target comet to be significantly different to that found on Earth. The discovery fuels the debate on the origin of our planet’s oceans.The measurements were made in the month following the spacecraft’s arrival at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 6 August. It is one of the most anticipated early results of the mission, because the origin of Earth’s water is still an open question.One of the leading hypotheses on Earth’s formation is that it was so hot when it formed 4.6 billion years ago that any original water content should have boiled off. But, today, two thirds of the surface is covered in water, so where did it come from?

Seychelles fossils illuminate temperature/ocean level relationships

The balmy islands of Seychelles couldn't feel farther from Antarctica, but their fossil corals could reveal much about the fate of polar ice sheets.About 125,000 years ago, the average global temperature was only slightly warmer, but sea levels rose high enough to submerge the locations of many of today's coastal cities. Understanding what caused seas to rise then could shed light on how to protect those cities today.

Seychelles fossils illuminate temperature/ocean level relationships

Climate Change News - ENN - January 9, 2015 - 5:39pm
The balmy islands of Seychelles couldn't feel farther from Antarctica, but their fossil corals could reveal much about the fate of polar ice sheets.About 125,000 years ago, the average global temperature was only slightly warmer, but sea levels rose high enough to submerge the locations of many of today's coastal cities. Understanding what caused seas to rise then could shed light on how to protect those cities today.

Global Warming "hiatus" connected to volcanic eruptions

The “warming hiatus” that has occurred over the last 15 years has been caused in part by small volcanic eruptions. Scientists have long known that volcanoes cool the atmosphere because of the sulfur dioxide that is expelled during eruptions. Droplets of sulfuric acid that form when the gas combines with oxygen in the upper atmosphere can persist for many months, reflecting sunlight away from Earth and lowering temperatures at the surface and in the lower atmosphere. Previous research suggested that early 21st-century eruptions might explain up to a third of the recent warming hiatus.

Global Warming "hiatus" connected to volcanic eruptions

Climate Change News - ENN - January 9, 2015 - 2:36pm
The “warming hiatus” that has occurred over the last 15 years has been caused in part by small volcanic eruptions. Scientists have long known that volcanoes cool the atmosphere because of the sulfur dioxide that is expelled during eruptions. Droplets of sulfuric acid that form when the gas combines with oxygen in the upper atmosphere can persist for many months, reflecting sunlight away from Earth and lowering temperatures at the surface and in the lower atmosphere. Previous research suggested that early 21st-century eruptions might explain up to a third of the recent warming hiatus.

ACC Urges Prompt Action on Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act

Energy - January 9, 2015 - 10:26am
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) today urged swift passage of H.R. 161, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, which was re-introduced this week by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS).

Carbon capture and the UN Economic Commission for Europe

Climate Change News - ENN - January 9, 2015 - 7:32am
The only way to limit global warming to less than two degrees is to combine renewable energy and energy efficiency with a large expansion in the use of carbon capture and storage, writes Christian Friis Bach.  Christian Friis Bach is executive secretary and under-secretary-general of UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).I will admit that just a few years back I was very sceptical. Today I am convinced that we must do it. We must capture the carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels.Oil prices tumble. Coal resources are vast. Large new gas reserves have been found. Fossil fuels will be with us for many decades and will continue to underpin social and economic development around the world. We need to invest heavily in energy efficiency and in renewable energy sources, but the only way we can hope to limit global warming to less than two degrees is to combine it with a significant expansion of the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Which fossil fuels must remain in the ground to limit global warming?

A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. The study funded by the UK Energy Research Centre and published in Nature today, also identifies the geographic location of existing reserves that should remain unused and so sets out the regions that stand to lose most from achieving the 2°C goal.

Which fossil fuels must remain in the ground to limit global warming?

Climate Change News - ENN - January 8, 2015 - 8:58am
A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. The study funded by the UK Energy Research Centre and published in Nature today, also identifies the geographic location of existing reserves that should remain unused and so sets out the regions that stand to lose most from achieving the 2°C goal.

Study reveals new method to estimate the global impacts of dams

When dams are built they have an impact not only on the flow of water in the river, but also on the people who live downstream and on the surrounding ecosystems. By placing data from close to 6,500 existing large dams on a highly precise map of the world’s rivers, an international team led by McGill University researchers has created a new method to estimate the global impacts of dams on river flow and fragmentation.

Most Earth-like Planet Revealed

Scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Kepler satellite have boosted the tally of known or suspected planets beyond our solar system to more than 4000, they reported here today at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Most are inhospitable—too big, too hot, or too cold for any conceivable life form. But another team seeking to verify Kepler candidates announced here today that they had identified eight new potentially habitable planets, including some close to Earth in size and situation. “We’ve significantly increased the list of verified small planets in the habitable zone,” says Douglas Caldwell of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

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