Trump Admin Weakens Obama-Era Rule to Limit Toxic Waste From Coal Plants
The Trump administration announced that it would roll back a rule from 2015 that was put in place to limit the amount of toxic chemicals that are in the wastewater of coal plants, according to The Washington Post.
The rule insisted that coal plants invest in newer technologies to treat their wastewater so toxic heavy metals like lead, selenium and arsenic are not leached into nearby rivers and streams where they can damage fragile ecosystems and also seep into drinking water, as The Washington Post reported.
The new regulations put forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is run by Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the coal industry, allows coal plants to dial back their investment in new technologies; the regulations delay the date that plants needed to be in compliance, and they exempt some coal-fired plants from taking any corrective or pollution-limiting action, according to The New York Times.
The compliance date is pushed back to 2025 for some plants. The ones exempted from the rule are done so with the expectation that they will be retired by 2028.
The "effluent limitations" regulations that the EPA rolled out Monday will save the coal industry $140 million, according to Reuters.
"Newer, more affordable pollution control technologies and flexibility on the regulation's phase-in will reduce pollution and save jobs at the same time," said Wheeler, as Reuters reports.
The Obama administration had said that the 2015 rule would limit 1.4 billion pounds of toxic pollutants from entering U.S. waterways each year. Coal plants use scrubbers to capture mercury, sulfur dioxide and heavy metals that would be emitted through smoke stacks. That rule has been in place since the 1980s, but what to do with those trapped pollutants is a thorny issue. Coal plants had been allowed to dump them into nearby waterways until the 2015 rule took effect, according to The New York Times.
And yet, without evidence, the current EPA said it expects the same or even greater pollution reductions because coal plants will supposedly adopt the newer technologies voluntarily. The EPA's math is based on the assumption that 30 percent of coal plants will implement technologies that are beyond the regulations required by the EPA, according to The Guardian.
"It's clear from this rule that a relatively inexpensive treatment technology is available – the one that they made voluntary – that would eliminate the toxic contamination of drinking water supplies and is very affordable. And yet they did not require it," said Betsy Southerland, an Obama EPA water official, to The Guardian. "People should be very concerned."
Environmental activists quickly criticized the rule as a gift to the coal industry and a shortsighted measure that ignored the health of the wildlife and people that live near coal plants, according to The Washington Post.
Thomas Cmar, an attorney with Earthjustice, told The New York Times that the EPA's actions will allow older, dirtier coal plants to stay alive longer since they do not have to invest in upgrades.
"There are dozens of water bodies around the country where the local water is significantly impacted by this type of direct dumping of toxic metals from power plants," said Cmar to The Times.
Cmar said Earthjustice will attempt to stop the rollback in court.
"Giving coal companies a free pass to dump more toxic heavy metals like mercury and arsenic into our waters is a travesty," Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in an email, to The Washington Post. "This shameless handout will allow greater amounts of these dangerous pollutants to be spewed directly into our waterways, threatening public health and pushing hundreds of aquatic endangered species, including salmon, sturgeon and hellbender salamanders, closer to extinction."
- Trump's Toxic Wake: 10 Ways the EPA Has Made Life More ... ›
- EPA Moves to Overhaul Obama-Era Coal Ash Disposal Rule ... ›
- EPA Delays Toxic Waste Rule for Coal-Fired Power Plants - EcoWatch ›
- Trump's EPA Weakens Justification for Life-Saving Mercury Pollution ... ›
- EPA Chief Previews a Second Trump Term: More Deregulation, Fewer Environmental Protections - EcoWatch ›
- New Clues Help Monarch Butterfly Conservation Efforts - EcoWatch ›
- Monarch Butterflies Will Be Protected Under Historic Deal - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.
- Remarkable Drop in Colorado River Water Use Sign of Climate ... ›
- California Faces a Future of Extreme Weather - EcoWatch ›
Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
- 14 Countries Commit to Ocean Sustainability Initiative - EcoWatch ›
- These 11 Innovations Are Protecting Ocean Life - EcoWatch ›
- How Innovation Is Driving the Blue Economy - EcoWatch ›