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Posted: September 22, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $335,000 to the University of California Berkeley and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control for projects to help businesses and manufacturers reduce hazardous chemicals in consumer products and to train a new generation of engineers, chemists, and product designers to use green chemistry for safer products.

“UC Berkeley and DTSC are exploring innovative tools and technologies to make consumer products safer and more environmentally friendly,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By promoting green chemistry during product design, companies can reduce costs, increase market opportunities and operate more sustainably.”

UC Berkeley’s Center for Green Chemistry received a $230,915 pollution prevention grant to create “Greener Solutions: an Interdisciplinary Safer Design Partnership,” providing student training in green chemistry and helping businesses reduce their use of hazardous chemicals. UC Berkeley will develop a for-credit course to teach 25 students per year in using green chemistry techniques to solve real-world business problems. Students will apply their green training to help five companies find ways to reduce hazardous chemicals and products in their supply chains. UC Berkeley will share innovations from these projects through training materials and pollution prevention case studies.
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Posted: September 22, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, EPA announced the availability of up to $5 million in grant funding to establish clean diesel projects aimed at reducing emissions from marine and inland water ports located in areas of poor air quality.

“Communities surrounding ports often face serious air quality and other environmental challenges, “ said Janet McCabe,  Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “By working with fleet owners to replace or update older equipment with cleaner technologies, we can find collaborative solutions that foster both economic growth and improve public health.”

Older diesel engines emit large amounts of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter (PM).  These pollutants are linked to a range of serious health problems including asthma, lung and heart disease, and other respiratory ailments.  Most of the country’s busiest ports are located near large metropolitan areas and, as a result, people in neighboring communities are exposed to high levels of diesel emissions.  Since most ships and equipment at ports run on diesel engines, clean diesel projects at ports will produce immediate emissions reductions and provide health benefits to those living and working in the area.

This is the second grant competition to focus on reducing emissions at ports under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). Under this competition, EPA anticipates awarding between two and five assistance agreements. Applicants may request up to $2 million in funding toward eligible projects. Port authorities, governmental or quasi-governmental public agencies that operate ports, and state and local governments with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality are eligible to apply. Community groups, terminal operators, shipping carriers, and other related entities are encouraged to participate through partnerships with eligible applicants.  Projects may include drayage trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and cargo handling equipment at marine or inland water ports.  Funding is limited to projects at ports located in areas of poor air quality, as determined by the Administrator.  The list of eligible areas for this RFP can be found at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/documents/fy14-ports-county-area-list.pdf.

All proposals must be received by December 11, 2014. For more information and to access the Request for Proposals and other documents, please visit http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/ports-dera-rfp.htm.

Posted: September 16, 2014
Source: The New York Times, Health
By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS

Concerned by rising rates of prescription drug abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Monday that it would permit consumers to return unused prescription medications like opioid painkillers to pharmacies.

The move is intended to help reduce stockpiles of unneeded medicines in homes, which are often pilfered by teenagers. Under the new regulation, patients and their relatives will also be allowed to mail unused prescription drugs to an authorized collector using packages to be made available at pharmacies and other locations, like libraries and senior centers.

The new regulation, which will go into effect in a month, covers drugs designated as controlled substances. Those include opioid painkillers like OxyContin, stimulants like Adderall and depressants like Ativan.

Until now, these drugs could not legally be returned to pharmacies. The Controlled Substances Act allowed patients only to dispose of the drugs themselves or to surrender them to law enforcement.

“This is big news and long overdue,” said Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s baffling that it’s so easy to get a prescription for opioids and yet so difficult to dispose of these drugs safely.”

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Posted: September 8, 2014
Source: Energy Manager Today.com author: Karen Henry

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) has released a report showing that NV Energy is a leader in the Southwest and the nation in promoting clean electric vehicle transportation.

Through its Shared Investment Program, NV Energy has facilitated the installation of nearly half the public electric vehicle charging stations in the state. Since 2009, the utility has offered a special electric vehicle billing rate that encourages people to charge their cars late at night, when demand is at its lowest and power plants typically are underutilized.

Customers in Northern Nevada, for example, who charge their cars between 10 pm and 6 am, pay 6.3 cents per kWh compared to the normal residential rate of 10.2 cents. In Southern Nevada, where electricity use spikes during the hot summer months, EV drivers who charge their cars between 10 pm and 6 am pay about 7 cents per kWh in summer and about 5 cents in winter compared to normal residential rates of 12 cents.

According to the report, “NV Energy: Leading the Way on Electric Vehicles,” electric vehicles are the cleanest transportation option in Nevada. About 66 percent of Nevada’s electricity was produced by natural gas in 2013. The remaining electricity generation comes from coal and renewable energy. Legislation passed in 2013 puts the utility on a path to retire 550 MW of coal-fired electricity generation in 2014 and another 250 MW by 2017, making Nevada a leader in the Southwest in moving away from coal and toward more renewable energy and clean-burning natural gas.

NV Energy developed its Shared Investment Program to improve range confidence and provided $500,000 to help fund new electric vehicle charging stations around the state. During 2013, the utility partnered with private and public sector entities to set up 133 individual charging ports at more than 47 locations statewide.

Employers who provide charging to their employees were also eligible to participate in the program. NV Energy offered partners up to $7,000 off the cost of a dual port charger, about half the cost.

The report comes as good news to NV Energy, which saw its energy-efficiency programs decline in 2013.

Posted: August 22, 2014
Source: Body Shop Business.com

Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes has announced its latest courses and training sites for the fourth quarter 2014, with the suite of courses available from Oct. 6 through Dec. 15.

Participants will learn through a combination of classroom, digital and hands-on settings at the various metropolitan Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes training centers. Training is designed for and available to shop owners, managers, painters and technicians, all of whom can also choose to advance their business-building, production excellence and/or paint application techniques as needed.

The following hands-on, paint and processes application-based courses will be offered during the fourth quarter:

• AWX Performance Plus Waterborne Refinish System
• Color Adjustment and Blending
• Painter Certification

Additional shop management and business-building courses will also be offered:

• Improving Performance with KPIs
• Achieving Service Excellence
• Estimating Solutions for Profit

“All of our courses this year reflect the Sherwin-Williams philosophy of lean operations,” says Rod Habel, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes director of training operations. “We’re always seeking to introduce concepts that support sustainable practices, increase productivity and minimize or even eliminate waste – all factors that are necessary to the success of a collision center.”

The upcoming curriculum has a strong emphasis on the company’s AWX Performance Plus waterborne coatings technology. According to Sherwin-Williams, the system provides excellent color match, quick flash times between coats and requires minimal time in, or even eliminates, the baking cycle. Other classes focusing on painting excellence, including hands-on application techniques, include its ULTRA 7000, Dimensions and ATX refinish systems, as well as its Genesis fleet refinishing systems.


More information:View training schedule

Posted: August 19, 2014
Source: Earth Policy Release

With grain providing much of the calories that sustain humanity, the status of the world grain harvest is a good indicator of the adequacy of the food supply.

More than 2 billion tons of grain are produced each year worldwide, nearly half of it in just three countries: China, the United States, and India.

Corn, wheat, and rice account for most of the world’s grain harvest. Whereas rice and most wheat are consumed directly as food, corn is largely used for livestock and poultry feed, and for industrial purposes.

Global grain consumption has exceeded production in 8 of the last 14 years, leading to a drawdown in reserves.

Population growth is the oldest source of increasing grain demand. In recent years, the annual growth in grain use has doubled, largely a result of increased use for fuel ethanol and livestock and poultry feed.

In 2013, the United States harvested more than 400 million tons of grain. Of this, 129 million tons (30 percent) went to ethanol distilleries.
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Date: August 18, 2014
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology


This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers at MIT recycles materials from discarded car batteries — a potential source of lead pollution — into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.

The system is described in a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, co-authored by professors Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammond, graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others. It is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells.

“It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years,” says Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT. Already, perovskite-based photovoltaic cells have achieved power-conversion efficiency of more than 19 percent, which is close to that of many commercial silicon-based solar cells.

Initial descriptions of the perovskite technology identified its use of lead, whose production from raw ores can produce toxic residues, as a drawback. But by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels that could go on producing power for decades.

Amazingly, because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometer thick, the team’s analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.
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Posted: August 6, 2014
Source: Earth Policy Institute

Water scarcity may be the most underrated resource issue the world is facing today.

Seventy percent of world water use is for irrigation.

Each day we drink nearly 4 liters of water, but it takes some 2,000 liters of water—500 times as much—to produce the food we consume.

1,000 tons of water is used to produce 1 ton of grain.

Between 1950 and 2000, the world’s irrigated area tripled to roughly 700 million acres. After several decades of rapid increase, however, the growth has slowed dramatically, expanding only 9 percent from 2000 to 2009. Given that governments are much more likely to report increases than decreases, the recent net growth may be even smaller.

The dramatic loss of momentum in irrigation expansion coupled with the depletion of underground water resources suggests that peak water may now be on our doorstep.
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Thursday,  August  7, 2014 1-3  p.m. PST,  10-noon,  Hawaii  time

TO:                  Interested Small Business Stakeholders

FROM:           Kia Dennis, Assistant Chief Counsel
                         Yvonne Lee,  Regional Advocate

SUBJECT:     Waters of the United States Regional  Roundtable Meeting

The  U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy will  hold a  regional Environmental Roundtable  to discuss the following topic, from 1-3 p.m. PST. The  meeting will be  held  in Los Angeles, California at the  Metropolitan Water District of Southern California  Building,  700 North Alameda  Blvd,  Los Angeles, CA  90012.  All  interested persons  planning to attend in  person or participate via conference call  must  RSVP  to Yvonne  Lee  at  Yvonne.lee@sba.gov  or  415-744-8493 before August 5,  2014.

 Draft Agenda

 1:00 p.m.-1:05 p.m.      Welcome and Introductions

                                           Yvonne Lee, Regional Advocate, SBA Office  of Advocacy
                                            Kia Dennis, Assistant  Chief Counsel,  SBA Office of Advocacy

1:05 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.    Presentation of the  Water of the United States Rule by EPA
                                            John Kemmerer,  Associate Director,  Water Division,  EPA Region IX
                                           Jason Brush,  Manager ,   Office of  Wetlands Services,  EPA Region IX

1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.       Discussion and Questions

Roundtable meetings are open to all interested persons, with the exception of the press, in order to facilitate open and frank discussion about the impacts of Federal regulatory activities on small entities.   Agendas and presentations are available to all, including the press. Anyone who wants to receive roundtable agendas or presentations, or to be included in the distribution list, should forward such requests to kia.dennis@sba.gov.  The purpose of these Roundtable meetings is to exchange opinions, facts and information and to obtain the attendees’ individual views and opinions regarding small business concerns.  The meetings are not intended to achieve or communicate any consensus positions of the attendees.

 Small Business Environmental Roundtable

Issue for Discussion

August 7, 2014

On April 21, 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have proposed a rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Decisions regarding whether or not a waterbody is subject to the CWA will affect small entities who need to determine whether or not their activities require authorization and/or permits under CWA.

Under the proposed rule, for purposes of all sections of the Clean Water Act and the regulations thereunder the term “waters of the United States” would mean:

(1) All waters which are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide;
(2) All interstate waters, including interstate wetlands;
(3) The territorial seas;
(4) All impoundments of waters identified in paragraphs (1) through (3) and (5) of this section;
(5) All tributaries of waters identified in paragraphs (1) through (4) of this section;
(6) All waters, including wetlands, adjacent to a water identified in paragraphs (1) through (5) of this section; and
(7) On a case-specific basis, other waters, including wetlands, provided that those waters alone, or in combination with other similarly situated waters, including wetlands, located in the same region, have a significant nexus to a water identified in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this section.

Waters that do not meet this definition are not subject to the CWA. There are several programs under the CWA that would be affected by this proposed rule including but not limited to Section 311- oil spill prevention programs; Section 402 – requires permits for pollutant discharges; and Section 404 – permits for the placement of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.

The comment period closes on October 20, 2014.

Visit http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters to learn more about the proposed rule.

Posted July 29, 2014
Source: Fuel Fix.com by Amy Myers Jaffe

With further escalation in hostilities in Iraq as the militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) tries to lock down more oil and gas assets, it is hard not to worry that an oil crisis might be looming. Saudi Arabia has fortified its northern border with Iraq with more military hardware and troops while Iraqi oil industry sources report that Iranian forces were simultaneously moving into areas surrounding the Southern Iraqi oilfields, raising the stakes in a possible escalation in recent border skirmishes. At the same time, Moscow is doubling down in its support for rebel fighters in the Ukraine, intensifying its conflict with the West and increasingly the likelihood that energy trade with Russia will get disrupted.

So far, the looming global instability has not ratcheted up US gasoline prices which are generally hovering around $3.50 a gallon. But it might be a good time for American consumers to think about how well they would be positioned in an oil crisis.

The Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis (ITS-Davis) can help you figure out the answer to that question with a new web-based tool, EV Explorer, that allows consumers to compare simultaneously up to four different vehicles on an energy cost basis.
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