Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Son of Solyndra? Green Groups See Red Over DOE Boondoggle Energy Loan Guarantee Plan

No one yet is calling it the "Son of Solyndra." 

But green groups, both national and local, are furious about a proposed U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee program ostensibly designed to promote "green" energy projects. 

Last month, DOE re-launched the multi-billion dollar loan guarantee program which had been pretty quiet in recent years following earlier controversies. "We're back in business," as one DOE official told Reuters.  But the revived program, ostensibly designed to support projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, is facing flak -- not so much (yet) from predictable conservative groups, but from green groups who believe some of the potential projects could actually undermine the Obama Administration's goals. Green groups are particularly upset about federal money going to support garbage and biomass burning.

The public comment period on the program closed yesterday, and green groups have filed a series of blistering letters in opposition.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Health Groups to EPA Science Advisers: Don't Let EPA Weenie Out on a New National Smog Standard; New Health Science Shows It Should be Tougher Than What You Recommended During the Bush Era

Major health groups sent the following letter this week to EPA's science advisers, who will meet May 28 to discuss an official recommendation to EPA regarding how protective a new national smog, or ozone, standard should be.  The health groups make it clear: more recent science argues in a compelling way for a more protective standard than the one recommended by the science advisers during the Bush EPA era.  Here is the letter:

American Lung Association • American Public Health Association
American Thoracic Society • Trust for America’s Health
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America • Health Care Without Harm
National Association of County and City Health Officials
May 19, 2014
H. Christopher Frey, PhD, Chair
And Members, Ozone Review Panel 
Clean Air Act Scientific Advisory Committee
C/o Dr. Holly Stallworth
Dear Dr. Frey and panel members:
We national organizations representing medical societies, public health and patient advocacy organizations write to provide comments to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee as you develop your final recommendations to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency on the second draft Policy Assessment for the Review of the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Your recommendations will deliver critical advice to the EPA and therefore, must be founded in the strongest requirement of the Clean Air Act: that the NAAQS protect public health with an adequate margin of safety.
Our organizations strongly urge you to recommend a standard or a range for that standard that will meet the Clean Air Act requirement, one that is much more protective than the recommendation included in the second draft Policy Assessment. Our organizations urge you to recommend a range for the 8-hour ozone standard that extends no higher than 60 ppb.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Guest Post: Driverless Cars: Environmentally Friendly -- But are They Safe?

[Clean Air Watch periodically accepts guest posts of possible interest to readers. Today's post on driverless cars comes from Nadine Tate-Swayne]

Modern technology continues to improve the auto industry by leaps and bounds. People who own new or almost new cars today have become accustomed to having such high-tech luxuries as satellite radio, GPS navigation, and voice-activated telephone dialing.

However, one of the most innovative improvements to hit the auto industry involves self-navigated systems that make the cars of tomorrow driverless. Indeed, driverless automobiles will soon be introduced to the masses as a select few industry insiders have already witnessed firsthand how this revolutionary invention can change the way people own and drive cars.

Even as the technology dazzles automobile insiders, however, the question still remains as to how safe these cars truly are. Tech experts, both inside and outside of the automobile manufacturing world, consider these factors when gauging how safe these vehicles are to own and use.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Draft Letter from EPA Science Advisers: Current National Smog Standard is Too Weak; TBA How Tough We Think It Should Be

As you may recall, EPA's science advisers have begun reviewing the science behind EPA's national clean air standards for ozone. When we last left the scientists, they had not firmed up an official recommendation to EPA's political leadership .

The scientists will reconvene May 28.  Ahead of that meeting, they have begun to review a draft letter of recommendation, and the draft is very revealing .

Although this is not official policy or recommendation, the draft does suggest a consensus on one point: that the current national smog standard, 75 parts per billion set by EPA in 2008, is too weak.  Yet to be determined: exactly how tough a new standard should be.  The draft does note that the tougher a standard is, the more premature deaths would be prevented.  And that there is evidence that asthmatic children would benefit from a much improved standard.