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Posted: October 8, 2014

Fuel economy gains for new vehicles continue under President Obama’s Clean Car Program

WASHINGTON – New vehicles achieved an all-time-high fuel economy in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg) ‑– a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years. The average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 grams per mile in model year 2013.

EPA’s annual “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2014” report tracks average fuel economy of new cars and SUVs sold in the United States. The report also ranks automakers’ achievements in model year 2013.
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Posted: September 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its fourth year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data, detailing greenhouse gas pollution trends and emissions broken down by industrial sector, geographic region and individual facilities. In 2013, reported emissions from large industrial facilities were 20 million metric tons higher than the prior year, or 0.6 percent, driven largely by an increase in coal use for power generation.

“Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life—increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA is supporting the President’s Climate Action Plan by providing high-quality greenhouse gas data to inform effective climate action.”

The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is the only program that collects facility-level greenhouse gas data from major industrial sources across the United States, including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills and landfills. The program also collects data on the increasing production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) predominantly used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
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Release Date: 09/26/2014

Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (415) 947-4149,

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will give technical assistance to help Carson City develop infrastructure that will contribute to greener, more vibrant neighborhoods and increase resiliency from the impacts of our changing climate.

Through its Greening America’s Capitals program, EPA will fund a team that will provide design assistance to Carson City for improvements along William Street, a former state highway that connects to downtown. The project will help the city explore how to incorporate green infrastructure through the use of native plants, and to enhance the neighborhood’s economic vitality.

“EPA is pleased to have this opportunity to work with Carson City as it pursues the vision of a more sustainable future,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This project will help
make Williams Street an economically thriving route into the heart of the city.”

“Carson City is proud to be a recipient of the EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals programs. As the state capital, Carson City is the face of Nevada both now and for years to come,” said Carson City Mayor Robert L. Crowell. “As such, it is important that we incorporate smart growth techniques into our development standards that promote an attractive business environment as well as desirable quality of life for millennials and retirees alike. This program will help us achieve that

The portion of William Street slated for redevelopment is near the center of the City which connects several neighborhoods to commercial services and community facilities. It is one of the only east-west connections across the new freeway that bisects the city from north to south. As a former state highway, William Street is designed to accommodate cars, and current conditions along the corridor create an unsafe environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

Support from the EPA will help the City in tackling the design challenge of creating a multi-modal corridor, including bikes and pedestrians that enhances economic vitality. As part of the design process, the City and EPA will actively engage with the local community in the planning process to create a more connected and attractive environment to residents and visitors alike.

Since 2010, EPA has helped 18 capital cities and the District of Columbia create community designs that help clean the air and water, stimulate economic development, and make existing neighborhoods more vibrant places. The final designs provide models for other communities interested in adopting similar approaches that can improve the environment, strengthen local economies, and protect public health.

Four other capital cities were also selected this week:

  • Austin, Texas, will receive assistance to create design options to improve pedestrian and bike connections in the South Central Waterfront area, and to incorporate green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff and localized flooding, improves water quality, and increases shade.
  • Columbus, Ohio, will receive assistance to develop design options for the Milo-Grogan neighborhood that use green infrastructure to improve stormwater quality, reduce flooding risks, and encourage walking and cycling.
  • Pierre, S.D., will receive assistance to redesign its historic main street, South Pierre, in a way that uses green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff and improve resiliency to extreme climate conditions.
  • Richmond, Va., will receive assistance to design options for more parks and open spaces, and to incorporate green infrastructure to better manage stormwater runoff on Jefferson Avenue, a street which serves as the gateway to some of Richmond’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.

The Greening America’s Capitals program aims to help communities consider ways to incorporate sustainable design strategies that yield multiple environmental, economic, and social benefits into their
planning and development. EPA implements this program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a program that helps communities
create more housing and transportation choices that result in better environmental outcomes for communities.

More information on Greening America’s Capitals:

View design options for past recipients:

More information on green infrastructure:


RELEASE DATE:   September 25, 2014

MEDIA CONTACT:  Suzanne Skadowski, 415-972-3165,

U.S. EPA proposes to eliminate mercury pollution from dentist offices nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposal to eliminate mercury pollution from dental offices nationwide. These new Clean Water Act standards would cut discharges of dental amalgam – a mixture of mercury and other metals that dentists use to fill cavities. Under this proposal, dentists must use devices to remove mercury and other toxic metals before they go down the drain.

“This proposed rule would cut mercury and toxic metal discharges to public wastewater systems by at least 8.8 tons a year nationwide,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Bay Area communities already require dentists to use amalgam capture devices and have seen their mercury pollution levels drop nearly 75 percent. Now the rest of California and the nation will see these same benefits.”

About half the mercury that enters public water treatment systems comes from dental offices that do not use amalgam separators. When mercury from amalgam is discharged into water bodies, it can be transformed into methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that builds up in fish, shellfish and fish-eating animals. People can be harmed by methylmercury when they eat contaminated fish and shellfish. Methylmercury is a neurotoxin which impairs brain and nervous system development and function.

Many states and local wastewater districts have started mercury pollution control programs that require amalgam separators in dentist offices. Amalgam separators remove 90 to 95 percent of mercury and other metal waste. Under the San Francisco Bay Regional Watershed Mercury control program, virtually all Bay Area cities and public water systems have successful mandatory dental amalgam separator programs, but this is not the case in most other communities and states.

EPA estimates that up to 120,000 dental offices in the U.S. use or dispose of amalgam fillings that contain mercury.  Almost all of these offices discharge to sanitary sewers that flow to wastewater treatment plants.  While most offices use some practices to reduce amalgam discharges to the sewers, they are not nearly as effective as amalgam separators. Because 40 to 50 percent of dentists across the country already use amalgam separators thanks to state and local programs, the new rule may result in installation of separators in up to 60,000 dental offices nationwide.

EPA estimates put the total annual cost of the proposed rule at $44 to $49 million and a new streamlining proposal will cut state and local oversight costs by a similar amount. This action is one way the U.S. is meeting the goals of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international environmental agreement that addresses human activities contributing to widespread mercury pollution.

EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register and expects to finalize the rule in September 2015.

More information:

Posted: September 29, 2014

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed standards under the Clean Water Act to help cut discharges of dental amalgam to the environment. Amalgam is a mixture of mercury and other metals that dentists use to fill cavities. Mercury is discharged when dentists remove old fillings or remove excess amalgam when placing a new filling.

Studies show about half the mercury that enters Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) comes from dental offices. Mercury from amalgam can then make its way into the environment in a number of ways, including through discharge to water bodies. Contact with some microorganisms can help create methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that builds up in fish, shellfish and fish-eating animals. Fish and shellfish are the main sources of human exposure to methylmercury.

In response, many states and localities have implemented amalgam discharge-cutting programs requiring amalgam separators and other Best Management Practices in dentist offices. The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends separators and other Best Management Practices for amalgam.

EPA expects compliance with this proposed rule would cut metal discharge to POTWs, half of it from mercury, by at least 8.8 tons a year.
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Posted: September 16, 2014
Source: The New York Times, Health

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: 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  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  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 to learn more about the proposed rule.