Monday, December 14, 2009

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding to be Used for Immediate Asian Carp Control Measures


The Great Lakes Inter-agency Task Force Chair and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson today announced $13 million in federal funding to prevent Asian carp from migrating further toward the Great Lakes. EPA and its partners are stepping up to prevent the environmental and economic destruction that can come from invasive Asian carp.

In February 2009, President Obama proposed $475 million for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an unprecedented investment in the nation’s largest fresh surface water ecosystem. Congress approved that funding level and President Obama signed it into law in October. The funding for immediate carp control measures would come from the $475 million initiative. The Task Force, chaired and coordinated by EPA, was created in May of 2004 under a presidential executive order and is responsible for implementing federal efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has identified more than $13 million in funding needs for measures to deter Asian carp from moving closer to Lake Michigan. The majority of funding announced today will be used to close conduits and shore up low-lying lands between the Chicago Sanitary Ship Canal and adjacent waterways. Agencies remain concerned that during times of heavy precipitation water, and therefore carp, can wash from adjacent waterways into the canal. Initiative funding will support work by the Corps to reduce the risk of invasion from these collateral access points. Some of the funding will support more genetic testing to pinpoint where carp may be in the Chicago Area Waterway System. The agencies will continue to identify other mechanisms for keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

EPA Signs Two Rules to Further Protect Ozone Layer


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced two final rules that will further cut ozone-depleting pollutants, protecting the Earth’s ozone layer and reducing harmful greenhouse gases. The rules reduce the availability and use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are primarily used as refrigerants and harm the ozone layer. A diminished ozone layer [hole pictured in purple at right] allows more radiation to reach the Earth’s surface, leading to serious health effects, such as skin cancer, cataracts, and weakened immune systems.

The first rule prohibits the use of specific HCFCs to manufacture new air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment beginning in 2010, while allowing limited HCFC use to service existing equipment. The second rule prohibits the sale, distribution, and import of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances and their components containing certain HCFCs that are manufactured or imported after January 1, 2010. The rulemakings protect the ozone layer by decreasing the availability of these compounds as well as the demand for newly-produced equipment containing HCFCs.

These rules advance U.S. compliance under the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. More information on the two rules.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Federal Tax Credits for Tankless Water Heaters

How Tankless Water Heaters Work

A tankless water heater is the perfect solution for those who want hot water and to save money. Tankless water heaters, which are also called instantaneous or demand water heaters, are becoming extremely popular these days because of their efficiency. Cold water travels through a pipe into the water heater and is then heated by an electric or a gas-fired element. As a result, hot water is instantaneous, and you don't need to waste your time waiting for the water to warm up. These electric water heaters can also simultaneously produce and supply endless streams of hot water to multiple outlets without the hassle of temperature fluctuation. These units are so popular that even the U.S. Department of Energy recommends them.

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, making great changes to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Under the new Stimulus bill:

Tax credits previously expiring in 2009 will now be effective until December 31, 2009.
Tax credits have been increased from 10% to 30%.
Instead of limiting the tax credits to a specific dollar amount (ex: $300 for tankless water heaters), tax credits are up to 30% of the cost.
The maximum credit has been raised from $500 to $1500; however some improvements such as geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, and solar panels are not subject to the $1500 maximum.
Tax credits are available to consumers for 30% of the cost, up to $1500, in 2009 & 2010 (for existing homes only) for:
Gas Tankless Water Heaters (non-solar, non-electric) placed into service before December 31st, 2010
Water Heaters
Windows and Doors
Insulation
Roofs (Metal & Asphalt)
HVAC
Biomass Stoves
Tax credits are available at 30% of the cost, with no upper limit through 2016 (for existing homes & new construction) for:

Solar Water Heaters
Solar Panels
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Small Wind Energy Systems
Fuel Cells

How to get your tax credit:

Choose a qualifying tankless water heater (see list above) that suits your needs.
Manufacturer’s Certification Statement* is required.
Save your receipts and Manufacturer’s Certification Statement for tax purposes.
Use IRS Form 5695.
Improvements must be “placed into service” (this generally refers to the installation, not the purchase) within the specified dates.
See the DSIRE database of state incentives, or contact your state energy office or local utility service providers for more information about tax credits and rebates in your area.

Federal Tax Credits for Tankless Water Heaters is brought to you by Heater Home.

Monday, November 16, 2009

EPA to Hold Public Hearings on Proposed on GHGs


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold two public hearings on the proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions thresholds defining when Clean Air Act permits would apply to new or existing industrial facilities. This program would cover nearly 70 percent of the nation’s total GHG emissions from stationary sources. The nation’s largest facilities, including power plants, refineries, and cement production facilities, that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year would be required to obtain operating and construction permits.

The hearings will be held on November 18 in Arlington, Va. and November 19 in Rosemont, Ill. Both hearings will begin at 10:00 a.m. and end at 7:00 p.m. local time at the following locations:

November 18: Arlington, Va.
Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan National Airport
2799 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Note: Anyone attending the Arlington hearing will need to bring photo identification.

November 19: Rosemont, Ill.
Donald E Stephens Convention Center
5555 North River Road
Rosemont, Ill 60018

For information about participating at the hearings please contact: Pamela Long long.pam@epa.gov or (919) 541-0641. The public may also register on the day of the hearing; however, they may not be given a specific time to speak.

EPA will accept written comments on the proposed rule until December 28, 2009.

More Information

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

EPA Releases Children's Exposure Pollutants Guide


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a user-friendly document to help risk assessors understand how children are exposed to pollution. The document, titled “Highlights of the Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook,” serves as a quick-reference guide to the more comprehensive “Child-Specific Exposure Factors Handbook,” published by EPA in 2008. It will serve as an additional resource for those who work on children’s health issues, which the agency has been highlighting during Children’s Health Month.

EPA developed the reference guide to provide important information necessary for answering questions about exposure through drinking water, breathing, and eating foods, such as:

· How much exposure to environmental pollutants might children get if they live or play near contaminated sites?

· How much dirt from a child’s hands might s/he inadvertently eat?

· How much of a child’s exposure to various pollutants might come from skin contact?

· Which age groups (childhood life stages) may inhale or ingest the most and thus may be at higher risks?

More Information

Monday, October 26, 2009

EPA Names Top 20 Green Powered Schools


For the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership announced the 20 primary and secondary schools nationwide using the most power from renewable energy sources. The top Green Power Partner schools are buying nearly 113 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, equivalent to carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) that would be produced from the electricity use of 11,000 American homes for one year.

The five schools using the greenest power are:

1. Austin Independent School District (Austin, Texas)

2. Round Rock Independent School District (Round Rock, Texas)

3. Rochester City School District (Rochester, N.Y.)

4. Bullis School (Potomac, Md.)

5. The Dalton School (New York, N.Y.)

Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and low-impact hydropower. Green power electricity generates less pollution than conventional power and produces no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

EPA’s Green Power Partnership works with more than 1,100 organizations to voluntarily purchase green power to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional electricity use. Overall, EPA Green Power Partners are buying more than 17 billion kWh of green power annually, equivalent to the CO2 emissions from electricity use of nearly 1.7 million American homes annually.

More information on the entire top 20 list of k-12 schools

Information on EPA’s Green Power Partnership

Senate Environment & Public Works Climate Hearings


The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee starts the debate over climate legislation this week with three hearings on legislation that would curb U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions:

10/27/09 Full Committee hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on S. 1733, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

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10/28/09 Full Committee hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on S. 1733, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

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10/29/09 Full Committee hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on S. 1733, Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

EPA Proposal To Cut Great Lakes Air Pollution From Ships


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing regulation to force vessels to burn cleaner fuel and upgrade their engines. Emissions from these ships are the only mode of transportation not under new federal air pollution regulations. These emission have been linked to increased levels of heart and lung disease, particularly in Great Lakes states. EPA estimates the proposal will produce more health benefits than those it has applied to off-road vehicles, diesel trucks and other sources. Without further regulation by 2030, the agency projects that smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions from the ships will more than double, to 2.1 million tons a year. It is being estimated that the new standards, proposed in July and set to be finalized by Dec. 17, would prevent up to 33,000 premature deaths a year from problems such as heart disease, respiratory illness and cancer.

The proposal would limit air emissions from ships in the United States' exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coasts. This includes the 133 American and Canadian "Lakers" that spend their whole lives in the Great Lakes or St. Lawrence Seaway and the smaller "Salties" that go between foreign and Great Lakes ports.

The agency wants to require vessels to switch by 2015 from viscous bunker fuel, which contains about 30,000 parts per million sulfur, to fuel that contains no more than 1,000 parts per million. Trucks are required to use fuel with no more than 15 ppm sulfur, and by 2015 locomotives, bulldozers and barges will have similar limits.

Great Lakes shipping industry officials say the cost of the new fuel and the engine overhauls needed to burn it would undermine their competitive edge and shift commodity transport to rail and truck. The Lake Carriers' Association believes the rule would cost U.S. and Canadian ships an extra $210 million a year for fuel. Out of a U.S. fleet of 65, they predict that 13 steamships with 429 mariners would be scrapped and that 13 ships with old diesel engines might face premature retirement.

Currently, some in Congress are considering the prospect of attaching language to the annual Interior and Environmental Appropriations Bill that could halt implementation of the rule and have delayed moving the bill as they seek to influence EPA. (Wash Post, 10/23/09)

More information: EPA Oceangoing Vessels

Four Reasons To Join The "Go Green" Movement

Everyday you hear something on the television or radio promoting the green movement. You decide that there's no reason not to join on the bandwagon and give the "go green" movement a try. After all, it's a popular idea that's gaining more and more ground with environmentalists and common folk.

There are many benefits to be had when you "go green". For instance, you improve your life as well as those around you. You also improve the planet by using fewer resources the Earth has to offer by using other resources that doesn't require taking something out of the Earth.

Remember that whatever comes from the Earth will have an impact on everyone. You can make an impact by making sure you don't cause further damage to it and keeping it at its natural beauty.

What "go green" tactics can you do? You can start by saving energy in your home or at work, plant or purchase organic products and use alternative fuel sources to heat and cool down your home. There is much you can do in the way of going green safely; all you have to do is start the process.

Why is there the overwhelming desire to go green? Here are four reasons to join the "Go Green" movement.

Reason 1 - Way To Safer, Healthier Living

Any non-organic household products will need to be removed from the home. Obviously these ingredients are dangerous to your health as well as to the environment. Consider using organic or natural ingredients to clean your home and clothes in lieu of these harsh, popular chemicals.

Reason 2 - Clean Environment For The Air and Water

When you don't use harsh chemicals to clean your home, wash your car or fix your makeup/hair, you get cleaner air and water. You also won't be dumping chemicals into the water system, which can have a long-term effect on the system. When you avoid using aerosol or other toxins, you keep the air healthy to breathe.

Reason 3 - Saving Money When You Go Green

Believe it or not, you can save plenty of money when you go with the "Go Green" movement. For instance, avoid leaving on lights when you leave a room. By doing this, you can lower the cost of your energy bill.

What else can you do to save energy? One way is to avoid leaving on computers and televisions for an extended period of time.

Another way you can help the movement is to recycle. If you have items you no longer want but are still in very good condition, consider giving it away or use it in a different way instead of sending it to the landfill.

Reason 4 - Eco-friendly Trendy Lifestyle

When you decide to go "green", you may change your d├ęcor to match the new lifestyle. Purchase items that employ greener tactics such as solar fountains or long-lasting light bulbs. Friends and neighbors will be envious over the look of your home.

When you "go green" you have the ability to give back to the Earth by not using those harsh chemicals to clean your home or using fuel sources such as natural gas or coal that gives your home power. Remember that you are doing yourself and the future generation a favor by "going green".

Author: Phillip Dye

Friday, October 23, 2009

White House Public Meeting On Great Lakes


Obama Administration Officials to Hold Great Lakes Regional Ocean Policy Task Force Public Meeting in Cleveland, OH, on October 29, 2009

Obama Administration officials will hold their sixth regional Ocean Policy Task Force Public Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 29, 2009. The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, led by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, consists of senior-level officials from Administration agencies, departments, and offices.

The Task Force is charged with developing a recommendation for a national policy that ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of the oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes. It will also recommend a framework for improved stewardship, and effective coastal and marine spatial planning. The public is encouraged to attend and an opportunity for public comment will be provided.

Members of the public can access the meeting in three ways: by attending in person at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center; by calling into the listen only phone line (800-369-2133; participant code: 8314284); or via live webstream at http://epa.gov/greatlakes/live.

Who: Chair Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

Rear Admiral Sally Brice O’Hara, Deputy Commandant for Operations, U.S. Coast Guard

Captain Byron Black, Senior Maritime Safety and Security Advisor to the Secretary, Department of Transportation

What: Ocean Policy Task Force Public Meeting

When: Thursday, October 29, 4:00-7:00 p.m.

Where: Marriott Cleveland Downtown at Key Center, Ballroom (Salon D and E), 127 Public Square, Cleveland, OH 44114

Submit Public Comment Online

The Center participated in an Interagency Task Force on Ocean Policy on coastal community issues that was sponsored by the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday, July 24. CEQ and EPA co-chaired the meeting at the CEQ Headquarters in Washington, DC.

$350 Million Willis Tower Green Retrofit


Chicago’s Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) will undergo a $350 million environmental retrofit starting in 2010 that will add wind turbines, solar panels, roof gardens and equipment replacements that should reduce energy use by as much as 80 percent. American Landmark Properties owns the 110-story building in partnership with New York-based investors Joseph Chetrit and Joseph Moinian. It is the world’s third tallest building.

All of the building’s 16,000 windows are being replaced, which alone could save up to 60 percent of heating energy. Energy-efficient mechanical and lighting systems are being installed, and the building’s 104 elevators and 15 escalators, along with its plumbing systems, are being modernized. Also planned is on-site renewable energy. Solar hot water panels would adorn the 90th-story roof, which is already carpeted with an experimental garden, and several varieties of roof-mounted wind turbines will be tested for their performance at those altitudes.

The retrofit was designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. The bulk of the work will begin next spring and is expected to complete in roughly five years. The project will create almost 4,000 jobs. The retrofits will save enough electricity to power a Chicago neighborhood of 2,500 homes for a year. Water conservation is projected at 24 million gallons annually. The owners want to earn LEED Platinum, the highest sustainability designation of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. A Sustainable Technology Learning Center is planned to educate the more than 1 million visitors to the Willis Tower each year on ways to save energy and money. (CoStar Group, 6/28/09)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Center Opens Chicago Office for the Midwest Region

The Center has reestablished its presence in Chicago, Illinois.

The Chicago Office for the Midwest Region will not only cover issues in the city and surrounding areas, it will also address regional environmental and energy issues.

We are excited about reestablishing in the hometown of Oprah Winfrey and President Barack Obama.

We look forward to a productive future as we work to mitigate environmental issues in this region.