During the first phase ToxCast tested about 300 chemicals, primarily pesticides, in more than 500 fast, automated tests or assays. The assays use human and animal cells and proteins to screen chemicals. Another 700 chemicals are now being screened in Toxcast’s second phase. The chemicals being tested are found in industrial and consumer products, food additives and drugs that never made it to the market. The failed drugs and associated human clinical trial data, donated by major pharmaceutical companies, are significant because EPA will be able to compare ToxCast screening data to human clinical data and other toxicology studies.
Only a small fraction of the tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce have been adequately assessed for potential risks to human health and the environment. ToxCast is reducing EPA’s reliance on slow and
expensive animal toxicity tests, enabling the agency to screen chemicals more quickly and to predict and identify potential health risks.
EPA scientists have compared the first phase of ToxCast data to the vast number of animal studies available in EPA databases. This comparison is helping determine which ToxCast assays can accurately predict different types of toxicity and disease. EPA scientific studies using ToxCast have already been published in peer-reviewed science journals and demonstrate the ability of ToxCast to predict a chemical’s potential to cause a variety of diseases.
The ToxCast research project is a substantial contributor to the the federal agency collaboration, Tox 21. Comprised of EPA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, Tox21 will
screen 10,000 chemicals by the end of next year. (EPA)
More information on ToxCast and the list of chemicals
United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico
COP 101 - The International Chamber of Commerce will hold its traditional introduction to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process to participants from business and NGOs.
Presentation of EU report on fast-start financing: The EU and its Member States will present a report on progress in implementing their fast-start financing commitment for 2010, following a preliminary state of play given in June.
Patents, technological knowledge and access to climate change mitigation technologies: The panel will discuss how practical tools derived from a study by UNEP, EPO and ICTSD can contribute to a better understanding of IPR options in the UNFCCC negotiations.
Climate finance portal - Update on the progress of the finance portal for climate change being developed by the UNFCCC secretariat. The event will also serve as the formal launch of the climate finance options platform, which is being developed by UNDP and the World Bank Group. Venue: Pitaya
Aviation bunker fuels - At this side event, the aviation sector will be seeking a dialogue with governments and other interested stakeholders on how to address aviation bunker fuel emissions and on ways to present effective solutions for consideration at COP 16. Venue: Cacao (Cancunmesse Hall D).
More information on all events can be found in the Daily Programme and on the CCTV screens at the venue
President Obama Statement
The FDA Food Safety Moderination Act amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to expand the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to inspect records related to food, including to:
(1) allow the inspection of records of food that the Secretary reasonably believes is likely to be affected in a similar manner as an adulterated food; andFULL CRS SUMMARY
(2) require that each person (excluding farms and restaurants) who manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, receives, holds, or imports an article of food permit inspection of his or her records if the Secretary believes that there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to such food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
(3) Authorizes the Secretary to suspend the registration of a food facility if the food manufactured, processed, packed, or held by a facility has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.
(4) Requires each owner, operator, or agent in charge of a food facility to: (1) evaluate the hazards that could affect food; (2) identify and implement preventive controls; (3) monitor the performance of those controls; and (4) maintain records of such monitoring.
The legislation follows a spate of national outbreaks of food poisoning involving products as varied as eggs, peanuts and spinach in which thousands of people were sickened and more than a dozen died. Food illnesses affect one in four Americans and kill 5,000 each year and tainted food has cost the industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses. The FDA has been inspecting only about 1 percent of imported food products.
The bill would:
Place greater responsibility on manufacturers and farmers to prevent contamination - a departure from the current system, which relies on government inspectors to catch contamination after the fact.FDA is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services and consists of centers and offices, which are listed in menu at left.
Give the FDA authority to recall food; now, it must rely on food companies to voluntarily pull products off the shelves.
Give the FDA access to internal records at farms and food production facilities.
Set standards for imported foods, requiring importers to verify that products grown and processed overseas meet safety standards. Public health experts say this is urgently needed, given the increase in imported foods.
The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation, and by regulating the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products.
The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods, and to reduce tobacco use to improve health. (FDA, Wash Post, 11/30/2010)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the 2011 percentage standards for the four categories of fuel under the agency’s renewable fuel standard program, known as RFS2.
The final 2011 overall volume and standards are:
Cellulosic biofuel - 6.6 million gallons; 0.003 percent
Biomass-based diesel - 800 million gallons; 0.69 percent
Advanced biofuel - 1.35 billion gallons; 0.78 percent
Renewable fuel - 13.95 billion gallons; 8.01 percentBased on an analysis of expected market availability, EPA is finalizing a lower 2011 cellulosic volume than the statutory target. Overall, EPA remains optimistic that the commercial availability of cellulosic biofuel will continue to grow in the years ahead. (EPA)
|Shellenberger & Nordhaus|
Cancun Meeting November 29 - December 10
Expectations Significantly Reduced From Two Years Ago
Examples of projects grant categorical exemptions:
- An electrical-grid upgrade project in Kansas led by Westar Energy, the state's largest coal-burning utility, which settled a major air pollution case by paying half a billion dollars in penalties and remediation costs.In all, about three dozen of the country's biggest polluters with past environmental problems won NEPA exemptions for the stimulus grants totaling $2 billion from the Energy Department - about 6 percent of the department's total money awarded so far.
- A wind farm project in Texas, as well as an electrical-grid upgrade project in five additional states, undertaken by Duke Energy.
- A project to create clean-burning biofuel from seaweed led by chemical giant DuPont, which received $8.9 million in stimulus funds in February. That amount nearly equals the environmental fine DuPont paid in 2005 for hiding the dangers of its toxic chemical known as C8 from federal regulators for two decades.
The idea of granting NEPA exemptions for stimulus recipients was first raised in Congress when the law was being crafted in early 2009. Congress passed an amendment mandating "expeditious" NEPA reviews and in order to give a categorical exclusion, officials must conclude that a project will not "individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment."
In filings with Congress, the administration has reported handing out exclusions to 96 percent of stimulus projects funded by $293 billion so far. The Energy Department, for its part, has granted NEPA exemptions to 99 percent of all stimulus projects it has funded so far - 8,012 actions costing $33 billion.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality, which oversees compliance with NEPA, does not keep historical records on the percentage of federal projects that get NEPA exemptions. (Wash Post, 11/28/2010)
|Al Dyson at Substation in Port Gibson, Mississippi|
The conclusion are based on data such as the amount of oil captured at the wellhead, combined with model-projected estimates based on historical oil spill data for similar types of oil, as well as the expertise and observations of oil- and oil spill-response scientists from government agencies, academia and the energy industry.
According to the report, chemical dispersants did a better job of breaking up oil spilled from BP PLC's blown-out Gulf of Mexico well than previously estimated. The most significant change from the August report is that government scientists have doubled the amount of oil classified as "chemically dispersed"— from 8% in August to an estimated 16% now. (NOAA, WSJ, 11/24/2010)
The new rules aim to protect drinking water and to track the amount ofcarbon dioxide that is sequestered from facilities that carry out geologic sequestration. Together, these actions are consistent with there commendations made by President Obama’s interagency task force on this topic and help create a consistent national framework to ensure the safe and effective deployment of technologies that will help position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race.
Drinking Water Protection: EPA finalized a rule that sets requirements for geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, including the development of a new class of injection well called Class VI, established under EPA’s Underground InjectionControl (UIC) Program. The rule requirements are designed to ensure that wells used for geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide are appropriately sited, constructed, tested, monitored, and closed. The UIC Program was established under the authority of the Safe Drinking WaterAct.
Greenhouse Gas Reporting: EPA also finalized a rule on the greenhouse gas reporting requirements for facilities that carry out geologic sequestration. Informationgathered under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program will enable EPA to track the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered by these facilities. The program was established in 2009 under authority of the Clean Air Act and requires reporting of greenhouse gases from various source categories in the United States. (EPA)
More information on the geologic sequestration rule
More information on the greenhouse gas reporting final rule
These sites have been on the CERCLIS (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability System) list for some time. The DC City Council is concerned that it takes EPA too long to clean up sites once they are placed on the Priorities List, so a councilmember is introducing legislation to force property owners to clean up their sites.
When an abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste site is identified, information about the site is entered into a databased called CERCLIS. The CERCL ACt was passed in 1980 and is more commonly knowns as Superfund. The Superfund trust enables the government to clean up hazardous waste sites and then recover cleanup costs from pulluters. (Washington Examiner, 11/18/2010, AAEA "Our Unfair Share: Pollution in Washington, D.C., 1998)
By Norris McDonald
Today is our 25th anniversary. The Center was incorporated on November 20, 1985.
You can see a listing of many of our activities during that time at our original website, which we converted to Multiply when the original Msn Groups platform ended). There is more activity information at our History page. My career has been very satisfying. From my beginning in the Fall of 1979 at the Environmental Policy Center (now Friends of the Earth) until today, the adventure has been incredible. I started out in the Washington, D.C.-based environmental movement. Jimmy Carter was president and was just finishing a rough 4-year run. I shook his hand at the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1980 not knowing that Washington was about to get a completely new makeover. The Reagan era was interesting and quite the challenge for the environmental movement. I still remember his 'no standard standard' for appliance efficiency standards. I also remember the Air Florida crash and the Metro subway accident on the day that I was walking back from the U.S. Department of Energy after testifying on appliance standards.
Well, without sounding like the old guy in the room sharing old war time stories that nobody really wants to hear, the situation today is as exciting as ever. We are embarking on trying to build biomass power plants in Mississippi, California and in Kenya. The adventure continues and I am having more fun than ever. Our team is lean and mean and green.
I have kept the Center small on purpose and will continue to do so. I almost died from respiratory failure in 1991 and 1996 (intubated for 4 days in ICU each time). After getting divorced and full custody of my son when he was 2 years old, I decided that I wanted to stick around to see my son grow up. But I also wanted to continue with my entrepreneurial environmentalism. So keeping it small worked. Although I still struggle with a chronic acute asthma that could kill me any day, my son is now 18 and I am still 'doing my green thing.' Life is good. Hey, and we just opened a new Center Hollywood blog this week. Oh, and if you're feeling generous, feel free to click on our Donation button on our sites.
If successful, the industry could make all lawsuits related to MERS across the country moot and remove one of the key uncertainties dangling over the mortgage industry. But lawmakers could create a new federal registry, effectively killing MERS's business and forcing the industry to submit to greater oversight. Reston-based Merscorp, which runs MERS, have been floating the idea of legislation that would establish the firm as the national registry to track the transfer of mortgages.
In recent years, MERS has become the target of numerous legal challenges from homeowners in foreclosure who allege that mortgage transfers made through the system are invalid because they bypass local recording laws. MERS, the lawsuits contend, does not have standing to foreclose because it is only a database and not the actual holder of the mortgage.
The liabilities could be astronomical for MERS. One lawsuit in California alone is seeking recording fees that could cost the company from $60 billion to $120 billion. But the consequences for the financial industry are even greater, as challenges to the validity of transfers done by MERS call into question the entire process of how loans were securitized and could render the 66 million mortgages in its system foreclosure-proof.
MERS is also under scrutiny by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which oversees national banks. The OCC is taking the lead in an interagency examination of MERS and the accuracy of the information in its database. The agency is also sending personnel to look at the foreclosure process at large mortgage servicers and how they use MERS. (Wash Post, 11/18/2010)
The Center believes passing energy legislation early in the 112th Congress is extremely important. And while many conservatives have turned against Cap and Trade, the Center has been the only entity that has been consistent in supporting this market mechanism for fighting global warming. As such, we are supporting the EPA push to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases. (Wash Post, 11/19/2010)
The U.S. Treasury will cut its ownership stake in GM to about 27% from 61% through the stock sale. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and President Barack Obama's chief economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, will also scale back their oversight. (WSJ, 11/18/2010)
Focus on energy efficiency to reduce GHG pollution from largest industrial facilities
EPA recommends that permitting authorities use the best available control technology (BACT) process to look at all available emission reduction options for GHGs. After taking into account technical feasibility, cost and other economic, environmental and energy considerations, permitting authorities should narrow the options and select the best one. EPA anticipates that, in most cases, this process will show that the most cost effective way for industry to reduce GHG emissions will be through energy efficiency.
The guidance does not define or require a specific control option for a particular type of source because BACT is determined on a case-by-case basis. Instead, the guidance and resources provide the basic information that permit writers and applicants need to address GHGs. The guidance also provides examples of how permitting requirements could apply.
In January 2011, industries that are large emitters of GHGs, and are planning to build new facilities or make major modifications to existing ones, will work with permitting authorities to identify and implement BACT to minimize their GHGs. This includes the nation’s largest GHG emitters, such as power plants, refineries and cement production facilities. Emissions from small sources, such as farms and restaurants are not covered by these GHG permitting requirements.
EPA welcomes public feedback on the guidance over the next few weeks on any aspect that contains technical or calculation errors or where the guidance would benefit from additional clarity.
Information on EPA’s guidance
Emissions at Deepwater Horizon Controlled Burns Were Below Levels of Concern
Dioxins are a category that describes a group of hundreds of potentially cancer-causing chemicals that can be formed during combustion orburning.
With support from the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA conducted sampling of emissions at the source of the controlled burns in the Gulf of Mexico to determine if dioxins were present. The sampling was conducted to identify potential dioxin exposures and determine the potential risks from inhalation to workers in the vicinity of the fires, risks from inhalation to the general population and risks to the general population from consuming fish caught in the area.
The first report summarizing EPA’s sampling effort indicates that while dioxins were created from the burning of oil on ocean water, they were created at low levels – levels similar to the emissions from residential woodstoves and forest fires. The second report, coauthored with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), presents the results of a screening risk assessment for the dioxins emitted from the controlled oil burns. The results indicate that increased cancer risk due to exposure to the dioxins released from the controlled burning of oil was small - less than a 1 in 1,000,000 increased cancer risk. Additional cancer risks for inhalation by workers and onshore residents and fish consumption by residents were lower than risk levels that typically are of concern to the agency.
Typically, the agency has a concern when therisk is greater than 1 in 1,000,000. Had the spill of oil continued, the results of these measurements would have been used by the Unified Command to determine if burning should continue. However, the well was capped on July 15, 2010 and the last insitu burn occurred on July 19, 2010. Consequently, these results aremost useful to inform and improve the agency’s ability to respond tofuture oil spills.
EPA and other federal agencies have developed a broad set of questionsand answers to provide the public with general information on dioxins, including what they are, where they can be found, and major sources of dioxins. The questions and answers explain the review process for thedioxin reassessment and discuss possible effects of dioxin exposure in humans, including advice about consumption of food that might contain dioxins.
Both reports and questions and answers about both reports
General information on dioxins
The Center and NACF are presenting energy and water system proposals to the island stakeholders and Southern California Edison (SCE) in order to get consensus on the best systems for residents and businesses. Proposals range from construction of a ten megawatt wood chip-to-electricity power plant, construction of a desalination plant , installation of wind turbines, construction of a gas-fired power plant photovoltaic electricity production to construction of separate drinking water and waste water lines.
The Center and NACF are seeking to get wood feedstock for the woodchip-to-methane-to-electricity plant from the wildfire areas around the State of California. They are also examining the feasibility of following the electricity plant with a distillation desalination plant. Our intent is to enhance electricity and water resources capacity on Santa Catalina Island. Planning and implementation of these two initial projects will serve as precursors to consideration and construction of the other projects.
EPA conducting congressionally mandated study to examine the impact of the hydraulic fracturing process on drinking water quality; Halliburton subpoenaed after failing to meet EPA’s voluntary requests for information
Center Hydraulic Fracturing Evaluation Criteria
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that eight out of the nine hydraulic fracturing companies that received voluntary information requests in September have agreed to submit timely and complete information to help the agency conduct its study on hydraulic fracturing. However, the ninth company, Halliburton, has failed to provide EPA the information necessary to move forward with this important study. As a result, and as part of the agency’s effort to move forward as quickly as possible, today EPA issued a subpoena to the company requiring submission of the requested information that has yet to be provided.
EPA’s congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study will look at the potential adverse impact of the practice on drinking water and public health. The agency is under a tight deadline to provide initial results by the end of 2012 and the thoroughness of the study depends on timely access to detailed information about the methods used for fracturing. EPA announced in March that it would conduct this study and solicit input from the public through a series of public meetings in major oil and gas production regions. The agency has completed the public meetings and thousands of Americans from across the country shared their views on the study and expressed full support for this effort.
On September 9, EPA reached out to nine leading national and regional hydraulic fracturing service providers – BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Halliburton, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, RPC, Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services, and Weatherford – seeking information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted.
Except for Halliburton, the companies have either fully complied with the September 9 request or made unconditional commitments to provide all the information on an expeditious schedule.
More information on the subpoena and mandatory request for information on Halliburton’s hydraulic fracturing operations
The data collected through the reporting program will provide important information about GHG emissions from petroleum and natural gas facilities. While methane is a potent greenhouse gas, trapping more than
20 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, it is also the primary component of natural gas, a valuable fuel. The data collected by the companies will help identify cost effective ways to minimize the loss of methane.
Beginning in 2011, petroleum and natural gas facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year are required to monitor and report all greenhouse gas emissions to EPA. Data
collection for petroleum and natural gas sources will begin January 1, 2011, with first annual reports due to EPA March 31, 2012.
EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, launched in October 2009, requires the reporting of GHG emissions data from large emission sources and fuel suppliers across a range of industry sectors. The data will help guide the development of programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
More information on this rulemaking
More information on the GHG Reporting Program
Buyers include oil companies mandated by federal law to mix renewable fuel into their conventional diesel. The U.S. Air Force has contracted to buy about 40,000 gallons for testing the fuel for potential use in planes.
The fuel will not be economically viable unless Congress restores a $1-a-gallon federal tax credit that used to go to companies that mixed alternative fuels into petroleum-based diesel. That break expired at the end of 2009, when the $170 million Louisiana plant was under construction. Syntroleum probably would not have built the plant if they had known that Congress would let the break lapse.
Some believe that if the tax break isn't extended, the whole green-fuels industry in the U.S. is going to go own. Similarly, a 45-cent-a-gallon tax break for companies that blend ethanol into gasoline is due to expire at the end of this year. Makers of the corn-based fuel are lobbying Congress to extend it.
Tyson and Syntroleum aren't making biodiesel. They use heat to change the molecular structure of fats and oils and then refine them into fuel. It behaves more like conventional diesel and jet fuel than biodiesel does—meaning it could be used in large quantities in existing pipelines, gas stations, cars, trucks and planes.Their fuel is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency for use in cars and trucks. It hasn't been certified for use in planes. (WSJ, 11/8/2010)
The Center's Carbon Mercantile Exchange (CMX) Will Stay Open Indefinitely
The House passed a climate bill last year that would set a national 2020 emissions reduction target on greenhouse gas emissions and outlined a national emissions trading scheme. But Senate Democrats abandoned the cap-and-trade method of cutting emissions. Big Republican gains in the midterm elections further diminished the prospects of further climate legislation passing Congress in the near term. The CCX was envisioned as the main clearinghouse for what would eventually have been a $10 trillion non-voluntary market had cap-and-trade legislation passed the Senate as it did the House.
(FOXNews, 11/8/2010, Washington Examiner, 11/8/2010, National Geographic, 11/3/2010)
Monetizing debt is thus a two step process where the government issues debt to finance its spending and the central bank purchases the debt from the public. The public is left with an increased supply of base money.
Effects on Inflation
To summarize: a deficit can be the source of sustained inflation only if it is persistent rather than temporary and if the government finances it by creating money (through monetizing the debt), rather than leaving bonds in the hands of the public.
Monetizing the debt can be used as a component of quantitative easing strategies, which involve the creation of new currency by the central bank, which may be used to purchase government debt, or can be used in other ways.
However, there can be an insidious effect:
When governments reach the point where they are borrowing to pay the interest on their borrowing they are coming dangerously close to running a sovereign Ponzi scheme. Ponzi schemes have a way of ending unhappily. To get out of the Ponzi trap, governments will have to increase tax revenues, or cut spending, or monetize the debt--or most likely do some combination of all three. (Wiki)
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members in Blue
Daniel Akaka, Democratic Senator from Hawaii
Jeff Bingaman, Democratic Senator from New Mexico
Scott Brown, Republican Senator from Massachusetts
Sherrod Brown, Democratic Senator from Ohio
Joe Manchin [for Robert Byrd], Democratic Senator from West Virginia
Maria Cantwell, Democratic Senator from Washington
Benjamin Cardin, Democratic Senator from Maryland
Thomas Carper, Democratic Senator from Delaware
Robert Casey, Jr., Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania
Kent Conrad, Democratic Senator from North Dakota
Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Senator from California
Kirsten Gillibrand, Democratic Senator from New York
Amy Klobuchar, Democratic Senator from Minnesota
Herb Kohl, Democratic Senator from Wisconsin
Claire McCaskill, Democratic Senator from Missouri
Robert Menendez, Democratic Senator from New Jersey
Ben Nelson, Democratic Senator from Nebraska
Bill Nelson, Democratic Senator from Florida
Debbie Stabenow, Democratic Senator from Michigan
Jon Tester, Democratic Senator from Montana
Jim Webb, Democratic Senator from Virginia
Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senator from Rhode Island
John Barrasso, Republican Senator from Wyoming
Bob Corker, Republican Senator from Tennessee
John Ensign, Republican Senator from Nevada
Orrin Hatch, Republican Senator from Utah
Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican Senator from Texas
Jon Kyl, Republican Senator from Arizona
Richard Lugar, Republican Senator from Indiana
Olympia Snowe, Republican Senator from Maine
Roger Wicker, Republican Senator from Mississippi
Joseph Lieberman, Independent Senator from Connecticut
Bernard Sanders, Independent Senator from Vermont
Administrator Jackson will hold a press availability at 2:15 p.m. with other members of the task force.
President Obama issued an executive order in October to create the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, continuing the administration's ongoing commitment to the gulf region. The task force works to integrate federal restoration efforts with those of local stakeholders and state and tribal governments, and to facilitate accountability and support throughout the restoration process.
View the President’s executive order
To RSVP for this meeting, please visit
This is the Fed's second experiment with a big bond-buying program. Between January 2009 and March of this year, the central bank purchased roughly $1.7 trillion worth of government and mortgage bonds.
By buying a lot of bonds and taking them off the market, the Fed expects to push up their prices and push down their yields. The Fed hopes that will result in lower interest rates for homeowners, consumers and businesses, which in turn will encourage more of them to borrow, spend and invest. The Fed figures it will also drive investors into stocks, corporate bonds and other riskier investments offering higher returns. The Fed normally would push down short-term interest rates when the economy is weak. But it has already pushed those rates to near zero, leaving it to resort to unconventional measures. (WSJ, 11/3/2010)
Fuel efficient models come in all types, classes, and sizes. The 2011 Fuel Economy Guide can help consumers easily identify the most fuel efficient vehicles that meet their needs. Overall, the best fuel economy performers are hybrids, but the 2011 fuel economy leaders also include fuel efficient clean diesels as well as gasoline models.
Each vehicle listing in the guide provides an estimated annual fuel cost. The estimate is calculated based on the vehicle’s miles per gallon (mpg) rating and national estimates for annual mileage and fuel prices. The online version of the guide allows consumers to input their local gasoline prices and typical driving habits to receive a personalized fuel cost estimate.
For the first time, the guide includes medium-duty passenger vehicles, which are generally large sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and passenger vans. These vehicles were not previously subject to fuel economy measurement and labeling requirements.
EPA and DOE will provide additional fuel economy information online as more 2011 vehicles, including electric and plug-in hybrid cars, become available.
In addition to being available on the EPA/DOE website and in automobile dealer showrooms, the Fuel Economy Guide is also readily accessible from many mobile devices (fueleconomy.gov/m).
More information, including a complete version of the guide
View the 2011 fuel economy leaders within each class and the lowest fuel economy models
The Center (through our outreach arm - AAEA) opposed Proposition 23 and joined with a large coalition of environmental groups to defeat it. (Mercury News, 11/2/2010)
BP's $1.85 billion third-quarter profit compares with a $5bn profit for the same period in 2009. BP's return to the black shows quite how strong and profitable it is.
BP has benefited from a higher oil price, which boosted earnings in its giant exploration and production division by more than $2 billion, offsetting a fall in the amount of oil produced. That division is being broken up, as part of comprehensive efforts to rehabilitate this battered business. BP is selling off up to $30 billion of assets by the end of the year, to cover those huge oil spill costs. (BBC News, 11/2/2010)
People with chronic asthma often develop a thickening of the smooth muscle lining the airways. Not only do you have too much muscle, it's too twitchy. If you have irritants in the airways, they can close down almost to the size of a pinhole. Most asthma medications work by reducing that "twitchiness. Bronchial thermoplasty uses radiofrequency waves to shrink the smooth muscle itself, a new approach to treating asthma symptoms.
This is the first non-drug treatment for asthma, and it's a very promising technology for patients who have been taking all the medications and whose symptoms are still not completely controlled.
National Jewish and New York's Beth Israel Medical Center are two of about 30 medical centers in the U.S. currently offering bronchial thermoplasty, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April. It was developed by Asthmatix Inc. The company was acquired by Boston Scientific Corp. in September and expects more hospitals to offer the procedure in the future.
Since bronchial thermoplasty is so new, few insurers cover it yet. The total cost to patients can range from $12,000 to $18,000. But some people with severe asthma pay that much per year for medications, doctor visits and hospital expenses.
This is an invasive procedure. It has some risks associated with it, mainly lung collapse, bleeding and additional breathing problems, mostly related to the bronchoscope. Patients also must be at least 18 years old to have the procedure. Since there are no nerves inside the airways, bronchial thermoplasty isn't painful. But patients generally do feel worse for a day or two following the treatments—one reason the procedure is divided into three separate treatments. There's a lot of mucous to cough up, and your throat is a little sore from putting the tube down in it.
Afterward, however, their symptoms improve—sometimes dramatically. In a randomized, double-blind controlled study of 297 patients at 30 sites, those treated with the Alair device had a 32% reduction in asthma attacks, an 84% reduction in emergency-room visits and a 66% reduction in school or work days lost due to asthma. Those results continued when the patients were evaluated again two years after the treatment, according to data presented this week at the annual CHEST conference of the American College of Chest Physicians meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
Bronchial thermoplasty is done in three separate treatments, each focusing on different sections of the lungs. With the patient under light sedation, the interventional pulmonologist guides a standard bronchoscope, a long, flexible tube, through the patient's mouth or nose as far as possible down each airway. An attached camera and light allow the physician to view the airway on a video screen. The thermoplasty device, called the Alair System, travels inside the bronchoscope and has an array of electrodes on its tip that extends and expands to contact the airway walls. The electrodes are then heated with radiofrequency energy, shrinking the muscle and creating a larger opening.
Each activation of the device treats less than an inch of airway. The pulmonologist moves the device and activates it again and again along the dozens of bronchial branches. Some patients have been followed for more than four years now and the smooth muscle in the airways does not become thickened again. The muscle is just gone. It does not grow back.
Patients may still need to use their asthma-maintenance medications after the procedure, although many use their rescue inhalers less often and are able to engage in far more strenuous physical activity than before.
Experts do caution that bronchial thermoplasty isn't for patients with mild, occasional asthma—only those who are taking all possible medications and still having symptoms. As of now, the company estimates that about 10% of asthma sufferers are potential candidates. Some asthma sufferers may be too sick to for bronchial thermoplasty. Those with an FEV1 (for Forced Expiratory Volume, a measure of air exhaled per second) of less than 50% of normal aren't considered good candidates. (WSJ, 11/1/2010)
Some believe the firm's earlier work for Transocean, the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon, poses a conflict of interest. In 2007, DNV inspected and recertified the Deepwater Horizon's safety procedures. In 2009, Transocean hired DNV to study the reliability of subsea blowout preventers. That same year, DNV named a Transocean vice president, N. Pharr Smith, to be chairman of DNV's rig owners' committee, which provides "input" to DNV's rule-making process.
According to evidence collected by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, Halliburton was getting poor results in lab tests of the recipe for the cement it was planning to use. Three separate tests suggested that the mixture would be "unstable." The two companies went ahead with the cementing job anyway. Its failure became the first in a cascade of factors leading to the accident. The cement at the bottom of the exploratory well was supposed to have provided a seal until a production facility could be built. The reason for the cement job's failure has been a matter of dispute for months. Halliburton has pointed at BP; BP has challenged Halliburton.
The commission has concluded that the cement was just one contributor to the disaster, noting that cementing wells is a complex endeavor and cementing failures are not uncommon even in the best of circumstances. But the new details call into question whether Halliburton's recipe - which mixed nitrogen and other additives with ordinary cement to create a foamy mixture - was the right one.
At the commission's request, Chevron recently carried out independent lab tests of a cement slurry that Halliburton said was the same as that used in the Macondo well. The commission staff said Chevron reported that "its lab personnel were unable to generate stable foam cement in the laboratory using the materials provided by Halliburton." The commission staff said in the letter Thursday that the Halliburton tests before the Macondo well blowout and the new lab tests conducted by Chevron show that "Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry before pumping it at the Macondo well.
Many of the earlier explanations of the failure of the cement job in the Macondo well have pointed to BP's decision to use six instead of 21 centralizers, devices that ensure the drill pipe is centered in the hole. Some speculate that the fact that BP and Halliburton knew this cement job could fail only solidifies their liability and responsibility for this disaster. (Wash Post, 11/2/2010, Wash Post, 10/29/2010)
Center Statement Before National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
The Center hopes to provide green power via its biomass-to-electricity facilities in the coming years.
The Intel Corporation tops the list as the Partnership’s largest single purchaser of green power and was recently honored with a 2010 EPA Green Power Leadership Award for green power purchasing. The company uses more than 1.4 billion kWh annually, equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 125,000 average American homes.
Green power resources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conventional power technologies and produce no net increase to greenhouse gas emissions. Purchases of green power also help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide.
More information on the top 50 list
More information on EPA’s Green Power Partnership
|Obama and Rousseff in 2009|