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Toxin Contamination and Other Hot Pubs

February 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 


Coal and Hexavalent Chromium: A report by Earthjustice, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Environmental Integrity Project highlights the health threats of a cancer-causing chemical found at 29 sites in 17 states.  Further contamination is likely since coal ash dumps are inadequately monitored.  Although municipal water is now being tested for hexavalent chromium, the toxin has been completely unregulated in coal plants and coal ash disposal.  Levels at 28 sites exceed by thousands of times a proposed drinking water goal for hexavalent chromium; at Minnesota’s Sherpo plant, the chemical’s level is 5,000 times above safety guidelines.  “EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash” outlines new evidence exposing the health risks of hexavalent chromium, its high concentrations in leachate from coal ash sites, the magnitude of coal ash contribution to Cr(VI), and the list of contaminated sites.

Power Plants and Mercury: The report “Dirty Energy’s Assault on Our Health: Mercury” (January 2011) by Environment America details the health and environmental effects of mercury pollution as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose a standard by March to limit mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants.  According to the study, plants in America emitted 134, 365 pounds of mercury pollution in 2009.  In fact, the power plants in just four states — Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia — are responsible for over 35 percent of all mercury pollution from power plants in the U.S.


Utilities and Energy Efficiency: According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s “Carrots for Utilities: Providing Financial Returns for Utility Investments in Energy Efficiency” (January 2011), the ability for utilities to profit from their energy efficiency programs provides strong motivation to create, support, and deliver successful programs.  The study found that electric and natural gas utilities able to earn a financial return on their achievements with customer energy efficiency programs are likely to lead the industry by financing customer energy efficiency programs.

Emissions and Stock Price: How much greenhouse gas a company produces has a significant effect on the value of the company’s stock, according to “The Relevance to Investors of Greenhouse Gas Emission Disclosures”, an extensive multi-national research project involving the University of Otago (January 2011).  The researchers found that the greater the carbon emissions, the lower a company’s stock, all other factors being equal.  The study concludes that markets respond almost immediately when a company reports an event that could affect global climate change, with stock values responding the same day as the disclosure.

Food Security: As the global population grows and incomes in poor countries rise, the demand for food will place additional pressure on sustainable food production.  Climate change poses an additional challenge as changes in temperature and precipitation threaten agricultural productivity.  The International Food Policy Research Institute’s “Food Security, Farming, and Climate Change to 2050” (December 2010) assesses the threats to global food security and outlines policy steps for rectifying the situation.  According to the study, broad economic growth and better agricultural productivity can offset food shortages created by climate change.

Car GHG Emissions: Halving the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from new cars by 2030 (and from all cars on the road by 2050) is a realistic target according to a study sponsored by the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI), of which the IEA is a partner.  The report “50by50: Prospects and Progress” (January 2011) assesses the current progress and the prospects of reaching a reduction in fuel consumption of 50% by 2050.  It draws on last year’s research and developments to conclude that technology required to design and produce significantly more efficient cars already exists.

Climate Change and ICTs: The International Telecommunications Union and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative  (GeSI) released “Using ICTs to Tackle Climate Change” (December 2010).  The study discusses how the environmental impact of information and communication technologies is tackled through more efficient equipment and networks, along with better waste management throughout the life cycle of electronic devices.  All sectors of the economy can significantly reduce their energy needs and GHG emissions through ICTs – for instance, by maximizing the efficiency of power systems in “smart” grids that harness renewable energy and distribute electricity with less waste.  The report also highlights the crucial importance of ICTs in monitoring the Earth’s climate and in warning of impending natural disasters.


Americans Say ‘No’ to Attacks on Pollution Safeguards, Gingrich Plan to Dismantle EPA: According to a national survey by ORC International for the Natural Resources Defense Council, over three quarters of Americans (77%) – and an obvious majority of Republicans (61%) – oppose the efforts in Congress to limit EPA’s authority to update the Clean Air Act with respect to smog, carbon, and other pollutants.

Support for Renewable Energy Resources Reaches Highest Level Yet:  The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely U.S. voters finds that 66% say renewable energy resources like solar and wind are the best long-term investment for America.  Twenty-three percent (23%) say fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil are the better investment, while 11% are not sure which is best for America.

27% of Americans Likely To Buy An Electric Car in Next 10 Years: A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 27% of adults say it’s at least somewhat likely they’ll buy an electric car within the next decade. That’s down 13 points from early August 2009 when 40% felt that way. Sixty-four percent (64%) say it’s not likely they’ll purchase an electric vehicle.


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