The American Lung Association and National Parks Conservation Association requested the federal court to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to comply with the Clean Air Act on May 11 and complete the overdue review of the air pollution health standard for particulate matter also known as soot. Earthjustice filed the action on behalf of the two organizations.
The brief filed on May 11 in federal district court for the District of Columbia asks the court to require the EPA to adopt final standards no later than Dec. 14, 2012, eight months sooner than the agency had requested. The brief also asks the court to require EPA to sign a proposal on the new standards within 30 days of the court’s decision.
In its filing with the court last week, EPA admitted that it had violated the Clean Air Act’s October 12, 2011, deadline but claimed it would now need until August 15, 2013, to adopt new standards—a date that is 22 months past the legal deadline. Recent health data prepared for Earthjustice, the American Lung Association and the Clean Air Task Force—summarized in the report Sick of Soot—demonstrates that with updated standards, more than 35,000 premature deaths could be prevented every year and health care costs could be reduced by $280 billion.
“EPA cannot ignore the facts: scientists and medical experts confirm that the current standard fails to protect public health,” said Janice Nolen of the American Lung Association. “The EPA doesn't need more time to study the issue—it needs to comply with the law.”
“The Obama administration must stop playing politics with public health,” said Earthjustice attorney Paul Cort. “Real people are going to pay for more delay, very possibly with their lives.”
“In spite of a 35-year directive from Congress to restore America’s National Parks and wilderness areas to pristine air quality, EPA continues to slow-walk measures like stronger fine particle soot standards that could bring cleaner, healthier air to our most treasured places,” said Mark Wenzler of the National Parks Conservation Association.
The American Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association, along with a large group of states, filed legal action to force EPA to review the current, weak particulate matter standards. The current standards, adopted in 2006, were found to be deficient in 2009 in a victory won by these same groups, also then represented by Earthjustice.
Airborne particulate matter is comprised of tiny particles of smoke, metals and other chemical compounds emitted from sources like power plants, factories and diesel trucks. Scientists say particulate matter, which can penetrate deep into our lungs, is one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. Particulate matter is also responsible for much of the haze that clouds many of our cities and parklands.
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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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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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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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