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Climate March and Summit

September 17, 2014 - 10:08am
This Sunday 21st September hundreds of thousands of people have pledged to march in New York, London, Amsterdam and many other cities around the world to demand climate justice, standing with climate and dirty energy-affected communities worldwide. They are hoping to influence world leaders gathering in New York for their one-day Climate Summit taking place on 23rd September to exceed the poor expectations vested in them.

Protected Areas Do Work, Says Study

September 16, 2014 - 1:17pm
Protected areas are working. That's the conclusion of a new analysis of over 80 different studies on the efficacy of parks and nature reserves in safeguarding wildlife. Published in the open access journal, PLOS ONE, the new study finds that in general protected areas house higher abundances of wildlife as well as greater biodiversity than adjacent areas.

National Chicken Council to Phase Out Some Poultry Antibiotics

September 16, 2014 - 9:47am
Only about 10 percent of the antibiotics used in chicken are actually used in humans, says the National Chicken Council. Its statement comes on the heels of a controversial report by Reuters indicating increasing proof that the prophylactic medications used in chickens are fueling antibiotic resistance not just in fowl, but in humans as well.

Air pollution found harmful to young brains

September 15, 2014 - 5:19pm
Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Calderón-Garcidueñas’ findings are detailed in a paper titled "Air pollution and children: Neural and tight junction antibodies and combustion metals, the role of barrier breakdown and brain immunity in neurodegeneration."

Petrol vs. Diesel

September 10, 2014 - 3:54pm
Climate change has made us question the things that we do, from buying food and using energy to riding planes and driving cars. One of the top questions surrounding climate change is this: Which fuel type is more environmentally friendly, petrol or diesel? Common knowledge would make us reply "diesel" right away, as engines running on diesel emit less carbon dioxide or CO2, and less CO2 is better to decrease the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, being eco-friendly isn't as simple as emitting less CO2. Diesel-powered vehicles may emit 20% less CO2 per kilometre travelled, but they may be more harmful for local pollution due to the tiny particles that are released by diesel engines into the atmosphere. The question really isn't which fuel or engine type is more environmentally friendly, as no form of engine that uses fossil fuels will ever become good for the environment. Rather, we should look at which has the capacity to inflict the least amount of damage to the environment.

Reducing Water Scarcity

August 29, 2014 - 3:53pm
Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016. Irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, according to researchers from McGill and Utrecht University it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in just over 35 years.

Study Suggests More Research before Fracking Continues

August 29, 2014 - 8:22am
An independent report on fracking has recommended a temporary moratorium on the controversial process and says that communities should give permission before it can proceed. The interdisciplinary expert panel set up by the Nova Scotia regional government says the science of fracking is relatively unknown and therefore its introduction should be delayed in the Province until the science and its environmental effects are better understood.

"Global Roadmap" Created to Balance Development with Environmental Protection

August 28, 2014 - 12:49pm
Roads make it possible to bring goods to market, to get to the office, to log a forest, to hunt its wildlife. Without roads, human society as we know it could not exist. However, to build roads, trees must be cleared and swamps drained, shrinking valuable wildlife habitat and fragmenting populations in the process. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads – and which should be left alone. Scientists estimate more than 25 million kilometers of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, representing a 60 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Many of these are slated for environmentally valuable places with high numbers of unique species and pristine forest, such as the Amazon Basin.

A Fukushima-Sized Problem

August 27, 2014 - 12:45pm
A newly-exposed report by Diablo Canyon's lead nuclear inspector shows that the twin reactors are unsafe, writes Karl Grossman. An earthquake on nearby geological faults could trigger a Fukushima-scale accident causing 10,000 early fatalities. The owner's response? Apply to extend the site's operation for another 20 years. As aftershocks of the 6.0 Napa earthquake that occurred Sunday in California continued, the Associated Press revealed a secret government report pointing to major earthquake vulnerabilities at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plants which are a little more than 200 miles away and sitting amid a webwork of earthquake faults.

Levels of Air Toxics decreasing across US Cities

August 23, 2014 - 8:07am
More and more people are living in our cities. They are great places to live, exciting, good jobs, great night life, but also sometimes congestion and unhealthy air quality. The latter problems are improving, however. Efforts to make cities livable without driving are paying off. Bike lanes, bike sharing, and efforts to reduce auto traffic and congestion are helping to improve the air quality in our cities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week released its Second Integrated Urban Air Toxics Report to Congress - the final of two reports required under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to inform Congress of progress in reducing public health risks from urban air toxics. "This report gives everyone fighting for clean air a lot to be proud of because for more than 40 years we have been protecting Americans – preventing illness and improving our quality of life by cutting air pollution - all while the economy has more than tripled," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "But we know our work is not done yet. At the core of EPA's mission is the pursuit of environmental justice - striving for clean air, water and healthy land for every American; and we are committed to reducing remaining pollution, especially in low-income neighborhoods."

Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms

August 18, 2014 - 10:25am
What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.

The cost of marine debris

August 12, 2014 - 4:53pm
Marine debris has many impacts on the ocean, wildlife, and coastal communities. A NOAA Marine Debris Program economic study released today shows that it can also have considerable economic costs to residents who use their local beaches. The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could save residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.

Mercury in the oceans increasing

August 6, 2014 - 6:29pm
Although the days of odd behavior among hat makers are a thing of the past, the dangers mercury poses to humans and the environment persist today. Mercury is a naturally occurring element as well as a by-product of such distinctly human enterprises as burning coal and making cement. Estimates of "bioavailable" mercury—forms of the element that can be taken up by animals and humans—play an important role in everything from drafting an international treaty designed to protect humans and the environment from mercury emissions, to establishing public policies behind warnings about seafood consumption.

A Bridge to a Renewable Energy Future

August 5, 2014 - 5:18pm
"Doing all we can to combat climate change comes with numerous benefits, from reducing pollution and associated health care costs to strengthening and diversifying the economy by shifting to renewable energy, among other measures." (David Suzuki) The whole concept of renewable energy has gained high importance in the recent years, owing to the growing need of conservation. Every person needs to do their bit to save energy so that it can be sustained for the generations to come. Generally people think of solar, wind, and hydroelectric sources when they think of renewable energy. However, there is one more source of renewable energy that is created around the globe on a regular basis, which is waste. As this concept is still very new, there are only a few companies who have ventured into this field. However, companies like Northern California Compactor are pioneers in this field with the introduction of different trash compactors, which help industries manage their waste and trash in a better manner. This also helps industries generate renewable energy from these waste products.

The Danger of Solar "Super-Storms"

August 5, 2014 - 2:45pm
Watch out George Lucas fans, a Death Star may be in our horizons – and one would only have to look as far as our nearest stellar neighbor: the Sun. According to Mr. Ashley Dale of the University of Bristol, solar "super-storms" pose an imminent threat to the earth by disabling electricity and communication system – or worse. Thus, the celestial body that illuminates the world may very well be responsible for sending it into darkness. In this month's issue of PhysicsWorld, Mr. Dale writes: "Without power, people would struggle to fuel their cars at petrol stations, get money from cash dispensers or pay online. Water and sewage systems would be affected too, meaning that health epidemics in urbanized areas would quickly take a grip, with diseases behind centuries ago soon returning."

Study predicts climate change and pollution will combine to impact food production

August 2, 2014 - 10:50am
Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution -- specifically ozone pollution, which is known to damage crops. A new study involving researchers at MIT shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.

Drilling in the Dark

August 1, 2014 - 9:54am
As production of shale gas soars, the industry's effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on August 1. The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents. "We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife," says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents." The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well.

Groundwater depletion and western US water supply

July 24, 2014 - 5:34pm
A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought. This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.

Wind energy not growing in Europe as quickly as expected

July 23, 2014 - 12:30pm
Europe's installed wind capacity will increase at a slower rate to the end of the decade than previously estimated, due to regulatory uncertainty and weak economic growth, an industry association said on Wednesday (23 July). European Union countries will have a combined 192.4 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind energy capacity by 2020, 64% higher than 2013 levels, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said in a report.

Two Years After Coming Into Effect, Australia Kills Carbon Tax

July 18, 2014 - 6:00pm
In a significant victory for Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the Australian Senate has voted to repeal the country's two-year-old carbon tax. Abbott made dismantling the tax one of the cornerstones of his campaign last September even as Australia remains one of the highest carbon emitters per capita in the industrialized world.

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