Trump to Veto Bill Intended to Keep Forever Chemicals out of Groundwater
'Forever' chemicals, which are often referred to as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals), are a class of heat and water-resistant chemicals used in a variety of industrial products, flame retardants and nonstick products, such as raincoats, cookware and packaging and have leeched into water supplies in almost every state in the country, according to The Hill. They are known carcinogens and do not degrade in the environment nor in the human body.
The bill before congress is sponsored by congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) with the intention of reducing unintended, involuntary exposure to PFAS.
"PFAS is a clear threat to human health and our environment," wrote Dingell in a November 2019 statement, as Newsweek reported.
"The reality is a lot of contamination is connected to military sites and the Defense Department," Dingell's statement continued. "We are continuing to champion strong provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act to identify PFAS as a hazardous substance for the purpose of clean up under the EPA's Superfund program and facilitate coordinated response between local communities and the military."
The sweeping legislation that Dingell proposed came after there was no mention of regulating PFAS in the annual defense policy bill. Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it would decide whether or not to regulate PFAS by the end of 2019, but it missed its own self-imposed deadline, according to The Hill.
A vote on Dingell's bill is scheduled for Thursday, where it is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled House. However, it is likely to face a backlash in the Republican-controlled Senate, according to The Hill. It also may never come up for a vote in the Senate after the White House announced its intention to veto the legislation.
The White House dismissed the bill as not cost-effective and as an affront to the power structure in place, saying in a statement that the bill would "supersede existing statutory requirements" that would prevent the EPA from making proper decisions about the treatment of PFAS in the environment, as Newsweek reported.
"By doing so," the statement read, "the bill would create considerable litigation risk, set problematic and unreasonable rulemaking timelines and precedents, and impose substantial, unwarranted costs on Federal, State, and local agencies and other key stakeholders in both the public and private sectors."
Environmental activists were aghast at the White House's decision to veto legislation that would require making drinking water safer.
"Enough is enough," said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, in a statement. "For too long, the EPA has failed to treat the PFAS contamination crisis like a crisis. Trump's EPA has sunk to a whole new level of failure."
The EPA currently recommends that water supplies not have more than 70 parts per trillion of PFAS, but there is no firm requirement in place. Critics say that not only is a requirement needed, but one that is much lower than the current recommended level, as The Hill reported."Just days after failing to meet a PFAS deadline, the Trump administration has threatened to veto legislation that would set PFAS deadlines," said Faber in a statement. "It's never been clearer that it's time for Congress to set tough deadlines to reduce PFAS releases into the air and water, set PFAS drinking water standards, and clean up legacy PFAS pollution. If the Trump administration won't take the necessary steps to protect the public from PFAS, it's up to Congress to act."
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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