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Study Purports to Find Carbon Nanotubes in Children's Lungs

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By Steven M. Siros

 

A recent study conducted by the University of Paris-Saclay identified the presence of carbon nanotubes in children’s lungs in France.  Researchers examined 69 randomly selected lung fluid samples and found evidence of carbon nanotubes in all 69 of the samples.  The samples were collected from the lungs of children between the ages of 2 and 17 years suffering from severe asthma.  Carbon nanotubes are often used in the manufacture of computers, clothing and healthcare technology.  Carbon nanotubes are also found in automobile exhaust.  Although the source of the nanotubes identified in the children’s lung fluid was not identified, the study found that the particulate matter was mostly composed of anthropogenic multi-walled carbon nanotubes ranging from 10 to 60 nanometers in diameter and several hundred nanometers long. 

According to the study authors, this study was the first study demonstrating that carbon nanotubes from anthropogenic sources reach human lung cells. However, others have been critical of the study, noting that previous studies have not found evidence of carbon nanotubes accumulating in the lungs.  Please click here to view the study. 


Companies Support Paris Climate Agreement

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson 

UN Conference on Climate Change

Fourteen major corporations based or operating in the U.S. have voiced strong support for the adoption of a new global settlement agreement. The companies endorsed a statement organized by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) calling for negotiators at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris to adopt “a more balanced and durable multilateral framework guiding and strengthening national efforts to address climate change.” The corporations supporting the C2ES statement include Alcoa, Alstrom, BHP Billiton, BP, Calpine, HP, Intel, Lafargeholcim, National Grid, PG&E, Rio Tinto, Schneider Electric, Shell, and Siemens Corporation.

The statement speaks to how a meaningful agreement could strengthen the role of and minimize risks to the private sector in the following ways:

Continue reading "Companies Support Paris Climate Agreement" »


Sustainable Energy Developments

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson 

A youth cools himself off at a water fountain near Marina Bay in Singapore July 27, 2015. Fifty years ago, Singapore was rationing water and struggling with smelly rivers devoid of fish and choked with waste from shipbuilding, pig and duck farms, and toilets that emptied directly into the streams. At that time, the 700 sq km island nation relied on three protected reservoirs and water imported from neighbouring Malaysia. Today, Singapore collects rainwater from two-thirds of its land through an 8,000-km drain network into 17 reservoirs; reclaims "used water" from a deep tunnel sewerage system up to 60 m below ground; and is developing technology to halve the energy used to desalinate seawater. Picture taken July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su  - RTX1MS4LToday Thomson Reuters’ published my blog, Executive Perspective: UN Sustainable Development Summit: Sustainable Energy Developments. The blog details the new 2030 UN Sustainability Development Agenda and how the recently adopted sustainable developments goals (SDGs) will influence sustainable energy growth around the world in the coming years.

Thomson Reuters’ Sustainability blog provides a wealth of information and resources on this important topic. I like to review the Editors’ Picks to get see the latest and most interesting sustainability developments.


US EPA Publishes Proposed List of National Enforcement Initiatives for FY2017–19

Bandza_Alexander_COLOR By Alexander J. Bandza

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On September 15, 2015, US EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance published a proposed list of national enforcement initiatives (NEIs) for fiscal years 2017–19.  This latest NEI list includes NEIs from the last round (FY2014–16) as well as three new potential NEIs that US EPA is considering. 

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Wind Power Companies Further Commit to Protection of Bats

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GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced that seventeen of its members have agreed to voluntary operating restrictions to reduce wind turbine speeds in the fall to minimize the number of bats killed during their migration season. According to the AWEA, the new policy results from more than 10 years of research by the Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative and others. It is anticipated that the changes may reduce adverse impacts to bats from operating wind turbines by as much as 30 percent.

Continue reading "Wind Power Companies Further Commit to Protection of Bats" »


OSHA Proposes 10-Fold Reduction in Beryllium Workplace Exposure Limit

Torrence_Allison_COLORBy Allison A. Torrence

On August 7, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a proposed rule in the federal register that would reduce exposure limits for occupational exposure to beryllium. Beryllium is a strong but lightweight metal (it is stronger than steel, but lighter than aluminum) used primarily in the aerospace and defense industries and is classified as a strategic and critical material by the U.S. Department of Defense. OSHA estimates that approximately 35,000 workers are potentially exposed to beryllium in approximately 4,088 establishments in the United States.

Beryllium exposure is an occupational health concern because inhalation or contact with beryllium particles can cause an immune response that results in beryllium sensitization. Individuals with beryllium sensitization can develop a disease of the lungs called chronic beryllium disease (CBD) if they inhale airborne beryllium after becoming sensitized. OSHA states that beryllium exposure has also been linked to other adverse health effects such as acute beryllium disease and lung cancer.

OSHA’s current eight-hour permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium is 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The current PEL was set over 40 years ago – in 1971. OSHA’s proposed rule would reduce the eight-hour PEL to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter and require additional protections such as personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training. OSHA estimates that the new rule could prevent almost 100 deaths and 50 serious illnesses each year.

OSHA’s press release on the proposed rule is available here and the full text of the proposed rule is published in the federal register. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted to OSHA before November 5, 2015.


EPA Proposes Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Finding for Aircraft Emissions

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Essig_Genevieve_COLOR By Genevieve J. Essig

In a rule signed on June 10, 2015, EPA proposed to find that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from engines used in certain types of aircraft contribute to air pollution that endangers health and welfare under section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act.  Further, anticipating that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will adopt a final CO2 emissions standard for aircraft in February 2016, EPA also issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking input on the potential use of section 231 to adopt and implement the international aircraft engine CO2 emissions standard domestically.

In the rule, EPA states that it is relying primarily on the scientific and technical evidence in the record supporting the 2009 Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under section 202(a) (the “2009 finding”), though it also includes subsequent work. It also follows the rationale it previously used with respect to the 2009 finding.  For example, EPA proposes to define the air pollution referred to in section 231 to be the mix of the following six well-mixed GHGs: CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride – the same definition used for the 2009 finding for the purposes of section 202(a).

The rule has been submitted for publication in the Federal Register; the internet version of the rule is available here. Comments will be due within 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. A public hearing will be held in Washington, D.C., on August 11, 2015.


D.C. Circuit Rejects Enviro and Industry Challenges to EPA’s Nonhazardous Secondary Materials Rule; Implications for Combustion Standards Remain

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By Alexander J. Bandza

Last week, the D.C. Circuit issued an unpublished per curiam decision in Solvay USA Inc. v. U.S. EPA, No. 11-1189 (D.C. Cir.), rejecting all arguments from both environmentalists and industry against EPA’s non-hazardous secondary material (NHSM) regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  By way of background, the characterization of non-hazardous secondary materials pursuant to the NHSM has implications under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the standards by which those materials can be incinerated in combustion units. 

Continue reading "D.C. Circuit Rejects Enviro and Industry Challenges to EPA’s Nonhazardous Secondary Materials Rule; Implications for Combustion Standards Remain" »


Corporate Environmental Lawyer celebrates five years of blogging with a new design!

In honor of the fifth anniversary of our entry into the blogosphere, we are excited to announce a major revamp of the Corporate Environmental Lawyer’s design. In addition to the blog’s sophisticated new look, our readers will enjoy:

  1. Mobile and tablet responsive technology
  2. A trending-categories cloud list
  3. Easy-to-use social sharing buttons
  4. Streamlined navigation menus

  5. Access to all five years of posts

In the five years since our Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety (EHS) practice created the Corporate Environmental Lawyer, we have written more than 500 posts, provided critical updates and insights on issues across the EHS legal sectors, and been ranked among LexisNexis’s top 50 blogs. As we wish to continue to grow the blog and provide our readers with the information they want to know, Corporate Environmental Lawyer editors, Steven M. Siros and Genevieve J. Essig, encourage you to participate by suggesting new topics.  We look forward to continuing to provide content covering the issues that are driving changes in environmental law.


Back to the Future: EIA’s Analysis of EPA’s Clean Power Plan Concludes that Power Sector CO2 Emissions May Drop to 1980s Levels

Bandza_Alexander_COLORBy Alexander J. Bandza

 

In June 2014, EPA issued its proposed Clean Power Plan to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act.  The Clean Power Plan proposes to limit carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units, including steam generating, integrated gasification combined cycle, or stationary combustion turbines operating or under construction by January 8, 2014.  In August 2014, Representative Lamar Smith requested that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) analyze the effects of the Clean Power Plan on, among other things, greenhouse gas emissions, electric markets, and coal plants retired.

Last week, the EIA released its report with an extensive press release describing the report’s high-level conclusions.  This week, the EIA followed up with a brief article that offers a stark conclusion driven by data from the Plan:  In its estimation, power sector CO2 emissions will fall to about 1,500 million metric tons per year by 2025, a level not seen since the early 1980s.  Much of this reduction would be achieved by an expected doubling of the amount of coal-fired power that would be shuttered with the Plan over the amount that would be shuttered but for the Plan.  According to the EIA: (i) but for the Plan, coal-fired power would be reduced by 40 gigawatts by 2030; and (ii) with the Plan, coal-fired power would be reduced by about 90 gigawatts in the same time period.

The following graph concisely illustrates the magnitude of this Plan:

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Source:  EIA

The EIA's full report is available here.