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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.
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It's become a familiar story with the Trump administration: Scientists write a report that shows the administration's policies will cause environmental damage, then the administration buries the report and fires the scientists.
By Jake Johnson
Calling the global climate crisis both the greatest threat facing the U.S. and the greatest opportunity for transformative change, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled today a comprehensive Green New Deal proposal that would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs over a decade.
The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.
The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.