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Fracking appears to be linked to rise in radon levels in Pennsylvania homes

April 9, 2015 - 7:35am
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers say that levels of radon in Pennsylvania homes - where 42 percent of readings surpass what the U.S. government considers safe - have been on the rise since 2004, around the time that the fracking industry began drilling natural gas wells in the state.The researchers, publishing online April 9 in Environmental Health Perspectives, also found that buildings located in the counties where natural gas is most actively being extracted out of Marcellus shale have in the past decade seen significantly higher readings of radon compared with buildings in low-activity areas. There were no such county differences prior to 2004. Radon, an odorless radioactive gas, is considered the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the world after smoking. 

Early warning system to detect algal blooms being launched by EPA

April 7, 2015 - 4:24pm
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it is developing an early warning indicator system using historical and current satellite data to detect algal blooms. EPA researchers will develop a mobile app to inform water quality managers of changes in water quality using satellite data on cyanobacteria algal blooms from three partnering agencies-- NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The multi-agency project will create a reliable, standard method for identifying cyanobacteria blooms in U.S. freshwater lakes and reservoirs using ocean color satellite data. Several satellite data sets will be evaluated against environmental data collected from these water bodies, which allows for more frequent observations over broader areas than can be achieved by taking traditional water samples. 

EPA Moves to Restrict Bee-killing Pesticides

April 7, 2015 - 2:45pm
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finally taken some action to restrict the use of pesticides that are believed to be causing serious declines in pollinators, but environmentalists are arguing the agency still needs to do more.

The highlight of the "Green Knesset" Project: The unveiling of the largest solar field in any parliament in the world

March 30, 2015 - 1:09pm
In the past few weeks, giant cranes have unloaded some 1,500 solar panels onto the Knesset's (the Israeli parliament) roofs. These panels were created especially for the Knesset's solar field, which is laid out over 4,650 square meters of the Knesset roofs and will have an installed capacity of 450 kilowatts. The solar array, which cost the Knesset NIS 2.4 million, will create some 10% of the Knesset's electricity, and together with additional energy-saving measures, it will help reduce the Knesset's energy use by a third.The solar array is expected to save the Knesset NIS 300,000 every year. It will operate according to the net-metering method, under which electric energy generated by an electric consumer from an eligible on-site generating facility and delivered to the local distribution facilities may be used to offset electric energy provided by the electric utility to the electric consumer during the applicable billing period. The Knesset's solar array will be the first of any national institution to operate according to this method. Director General of the Knesset, Mr. Ronen Plot, hopes that other government institutions and local authorities will follow suit and establish solar fields of their own.

France passes law to promote green roofs

March 26, 2015 - 10:05am
Environmentalism is fast becoming a top concern in France – a rooftop concern, to be precise. Excitingly, the nation has just passed new legislation that will require all upcoming commercial construction projects to feature either green roofs or solar panels above their top floors.

Are the EU's air pollution rules weaker than China's?

March 5, 2015 - 8:20am
Europe’s coal plants will be allowed to emit more deadly pollutants than their notorious Chinese counterparts under EU proposals for new air quality rules heavily influenced by the big energy lobby, new research has found. A Greenpeace investigation has found new pollution limits for coal-fired power plants currently being discussed by the European Union are significantly weaker than those in place in China, as well as several times weaker than what’s already been achieved by the least polluting plants in other developed economies, including the US and Japan.

ENN Releases App for Android Users

February 23, 2015 - 9:14am
Last month ENN launched a new mobile app available at the iTunes store making it easier for you to connect with us and stay up to date with groundbreaking environmental news. Now, ENN releases the mobile app at Google Play, making it compatible for Android users.ENN is more than just a gatherer of environmental news but rather a unique set of resources, archives, tools, and experts for the increasingly complex field of environmental science attracting readers from all levels of government, business and academia.We also encourage you to join the conversation by checking out our Community Blog and by connecting with us on Facebook.Apple users can download the app at the iTunes store.Android users can download the app at Google Play.Make sure you click on the app with the logo shown here.

US considering standards for organic fish farming

February 5, 2015 - 6:32am
When it comes to organic certification, food producers must follow strict guidelines.For an organic steak, for instance, the cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed, and the feed mix can't be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering.Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish.

Why Dedicating Land to Bioenergy Won't Curb Climate Change

February 2, 2015 - 7:11pm
This post originally was published on WRI.org.How does bioenergy contribute to a sustainable food and climate future?A new WRI paper finds bioenergy can play a modest role using wastes and other niche fuelstocks, but recommends against dedicating land to produce bioenergy. The lesson: do not grow food or grass crops for ethanol or diesel or cut down trees for electricity.Even modest quantities of bioenergy would greatly increase the global competition for land. People already use roughly three-quarters of the world’s vegetated land for crops, livestock grazing and wood harvests. The remaining land protects clean water, supports biodiversity and stores carbon in trees, shrubs and soils -- a benefit increasingly important for tackling climate change. The competition for land is growing, even without more bioenergy, to meet likely demands for at least 70 percent more food, forage and wood.

New analysis explores trends in global plastic consumption and recycling

January 28, 2015 - 3:35pm
For more than 50 years, global production of plastic has continued to rise. Some 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012. Recovery and recycling, however, remain insufficient, and millions of tons of plastics end up in landfills and oceans each year, writes Gaelle Gourmelon, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Worldwatch Institute, in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online article.

Shell Slapped with Near-$1 million Fine for Falsely Selling Green Motor Fuel

January 20, 2015 - 4:43pm
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a settlement with threecompanies affiliated with Shell Oil Company to resolve Clean Air Act violations, including selling gasoline and diesel fuel that did not conform to federal standards. The violations resulted in excess emissions of harmful air pollutants from motor vehicles, which pose public health threats and environmental impacts. The companies will pay a $900,000 penalty to resolve these violations.

Study Finds New Toxic Contaminants In Oil And Gas Wastewater

January 14, 2015 - 12:21pm
Scientists have discovered high levels of two potentially hazardous contaminants, ammonium and iodide, in wastewater being discharged or spilled into streams and rivers from oil and gas operations.Levels of contamination were just as high in wastewater coming from conventional oil and gas wells as from hydraulically fractured shale gas wells.

Are the US drinking water standards outdated?

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.