The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
EPA Grants Florida Utilities Blanket Pollution Waiver After Irma
The waiver, given at the request of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and effective through Sept. 26, allows the utilities "to operate without meeting all pollution controls in order to maintain the supply of electricity to customers and critical facilities across the state as a result of Hurricane Irma," EPA said.
But as the Associated Press noted in a report, the waiver basically means that electric companies can get away with violating clean air and water standards without penalty for the next two weeks.
According to the AP report: "The EPA's assurance letter will allow utilities to operate outside restrictions mandated by their permits, including potentially using dirtier fuels, running for longer hours or electively bypassing pollution control equipment. Coal-fired plants can also discharge wastewater laced with levels of toxic-heavy metals at higher concentrations than what would normally be permitted."
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 5.6 million Florida homes and businesses still remain without power, state officials said.
"EPA believes that the exercise of enforcement discretion in these circumstances is in the public interest and will help address the emergency circumstances in Florida," the agency said in a letter.
"Under EPA's no action assurance letter, the facilities must continue to exercise good air and water pollution control practices and comply with all other federal, state and local environmental laws."
But the AP also pointed out that air pollution levels spiked in the Houston area after Texas petrochemical facilities were granted a similar enforcement waiver ahead of Hurricane Harvey.
Diane Carman at Earthjustice writes that "toxic cleanup will be a part of the work ahead" as the country picks up the pieces from the devastating weather events.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jessica Taft
Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Justin Mikulka
Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.
Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.
It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.
Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.