Activists taking part in U.N. climate talks say Japan's decision to drastically scale back its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions will hurt the battle against global warming. The new target approved by the Japanese Cabinet calls for reducing emissions by 3.8% from their 2005 level by 2020.
The first trickle of fuels made from agricultural...
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A year ago, lawyers for BP and Gulf Coast residents and businesses took turns urging a federal judge to approve their settlement for compensating victims of the company's massive 2010 oil spill. However, the one-time allies will be at odds when an appeals court hears objections to the multibillion-dollar deal.
In waters off Long Beach, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach—some of the region's most popular surfing strands and tourist attractions—oil companies have used fracking at least 203 times at six sites in the past two decades. This discovery made from drilling records and interviews shows that offshore fracking is more widespread and frequent that state officials believed.
Linking global warming to public health, disease and extreme weather, the Obama administration pressed ahead Friday with tough requirements to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, despite protests from industry and Republicans that it would dim coal's future. The proposal, which would set the first national limits on heat-trapping pollution from future power plants, is intended to help reshape where Americans get electricity.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a web-based tool, called ChemView, to significantly improve access to chemical specific regulatory information developed by EPA and data submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The tool displays key health and safety data in an online format that allows comparison of chemicals by use and by health or environmental effects.
Why can’t global leaders agree on a broad, effective climate change pact? More than 20 years after they began, international negotiations based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have resulted in only one legally binding treaty. That agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, has not been ratified by the U.S., historically the world’s largest carbon emitter.
Three weeks after giving an ambitious speech to outline his climate change proposal, President Obama begins the arduous task of executing it. His plan is a complicated mix of rulemaking and federal permitting that's tough to encapsulate in a neat sales pitch—and may be even tougher to put into action.
Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to recent research. Hydroelectric dams are controlled by guide curves that account for drinking water and droughts. They cannot simply release water to meet some electricity demand or hold back water when electricity is in low demand.
As climate change begins to take the spotlight again as a political issue in the U.S., a once radical idea has resurfaced among both Republicans and Democrats: a carbon tax. On Tuesday, a conservative think tank held discussions about it while a more liberal think tank released a paper on it. And the Congressional Budget Office issued a 19-page report on the different ways to make a carbon tax less burdensome on lower income people.
Increasing demand for bioenergy feedstock is generating land-use conflicts and food vs. fuel controversies. An team of 11 scientists from seven European countries and the United States have recently published a study that gives scientific background to the debate. It supports a reassessment of the land available for bioenergy feedstock production.
Shale gas drilling has attracted national attention because advances in technology have unlocked billions of dollars of gas reserves, leading to a boom in production, jobs, and profits, as well as concerns about pollution and public health. In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.
A drilling company in southwestern Pennsylvania has given researchers at National Energy Technology Laboratory access to a commercial drilling site, a move that may provide some of the first solid answers to a controversial question: Can gas drilling fluids migrate and pose a threat to drinking water?
New research from North Carolina State University shows that federal requirements governing diesel engines of new tractor trailer trucks have resulted in major cuts in emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides—pollutants that have significant human health and environmental impacts.
Despite concern from some scientists who believe exposure to BPA can harm the reproductive and nervous systems of humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has turned down a petition from environmentalists that would have banned the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A from all food and drink packaging, including plastic bottles and canned food.
Drillers require a lot of energy to recover and refine heavy, viscous bitumen from Canada’s oil sands. In the first look at the effect of air pollution from the excavation of oil sands, also called tar sands, scientists used satellites to measure nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The effects, they say, are equivalent of a large power plant or a medium-sized city.
A U.N. climate conference reached a hard-fought agreement Sunday on a complex and far-reaching program meant to set a new course for the global fight against climate change for the coming decades. The United States was a reluctant supporter, concerned about agreeing to join an international climate system that likely would find much opposition in the U.S. Congress.
At the end of October, the United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP, will conduct the third of five meetings to hammer out a treaty that may involve the comprehensive ban on mercury. The problem, says many health experts, is that a proposed ban might include thiomersal, a mercury compound used to prevent contamination and extend the shelf life of vaccines.
On Thursday, California formally adopted the nation's most comprehensive so-called "cap-and-trade" system. The system will be an experiment by the world's eighth-largest economy to provide financial incentives for polluters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some businesses claim it will hurt job growth and increase electricity costs; proponents say it will do the opposite.
According to an internal government watchdog, the Obama administration cut corners before concluding that climate-change pollution can endanger human health. This key finding underpins costly new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.
For some, Marcellus Shale natural gas represents a economic boon for America. For others, it’s an ongoing ecological disaster. Scientists worry that as advocates on both sides spin every shred of research to fit their own views, they will ignore the bigger picture.
More and more natural gas is being extracted from underground shale deposits, but environmental concerns have been raised. Stanford geophysicist Mark Zoback, who recently served on a Department of Energy panel of experts, says it can be done safely.
According to an extensive investigation by the Associated Press, federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards. The report claims that nuclear regulatory officials have often decided original regulations are too strict and has argued that safety margins could be eased without peril.
After lying dormant for hundreds of millions of years, shale gas was tapped for the first time in a natural gas well in 1821. Since then, oil has taken the spotlight, but now shale gas is looked to as the energy resource of the present and future. The National Energy Technology Laboratory, which helped pioneer hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, tracks some of the technological developments in shale gas extraction.
Some scientists have debated the actual severity of the nuclear power plant incident at Fukushima Dai-ichi, but its impact on the ocean is no question much greater than that of Chernobyl. Now, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are starting to build a global database of baseline levels of marine radionuclides so they can be more accurately tracked in the future.
Natural gas drillers have been under intense scrutiny since reports of fouled drinking water emerged several years ago. Now, research is resolving some of the questions surrounding hydraulic fracking, including the actual risk of methane contamination of water wells and the effect of highly-saline wastewater on watersheds.
The world's most seismically charged region is undergoing a nuclear renaissance as it struggles to harness enough power for its huge populations and booming economies. But China, Taiwan, India and several other countries have made little use of new science to determine whether these areas are safe. At least 32 plants in operation or under construction in Asia are at risk of one day being hit by a tsunami, nuclear experts and geologists warn.
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