Archive | April, 2011

EPA’s Environmental Justice Assessment of Solid Waste Definition Almost Due

28 Apr

Pursuant to a settlement agreement between USEPA and Sierra Club filed in September 2010, EPA must evaluate by June 30 of this year the environmental justice impacts of the new definition of solid waste that went into effect in 2009.  EPA had proposed the new definition of solid waste in an effort to clarify under what circumstances hazardous secondary materials were not “discarded” and, thus, not solid waste subject to RCRA regulation.  Sierra Club disagreed with EPA’s conclusion that the rule would have no adverse environmental impacts or adverse environmental justice impacts and filed an administrative petition requesting that the agency repeal the rule.  In support of their environmental justice claims, Sierra Club referred to data establishing that over half on the population in the immediate area of TSD facilities were minorities.

Check back in the future for updates on this topic.

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Is biomass energy clean?

9 Apr

Generally speaking, biomass is material from living or recently living organisms, most typically plant matter.  In turn, biomass energy is usully derived from burning these materials.  Biomass energy sources can take many forms: people most often think of wood chips from tree branches or stumps; however, it can also include crops grown exclusively, or in large part, for energy production such as corn, sorghum, sugarcane, and palm oil.  Many scientists and policy makers have assumed that biomass energy does not lead to a net increase in Green House Gas emissions (carbon dioxide in particular) because the plants consume and sequester carbon dioxide during their life cycle and, therefore, off-set the GHG emissions that occur when they are burned.   As a result, many states have included biomass in their definition of renewable energy resource for their Renewable Energy Standards (RES) (which require that a certain percentage of power is generated from renewable energy).    Recently, the assumption that biomass energy is always clean has been challenged. (more…)

EPA Announces Renewed Focus on Environmental Justice

1 Apr

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced environmental justice as one the agency’s priorities for 2010.  EPA intends to focus its outreach to communities that have been historically underrepresented and on protecting subpopulations that are particularly at risk, like children.  EPA recently published interim guidance on evaluating whether a project raises environmental justice issues and recently announced Plan EJ 2014, a agency roadmap for evaluating environmental justice considerations, scheduled to go into effect on the 20th anniversary of the original executive order (Executive order 12898 (Feb. 11, 1994)).  According to the EPA, (more…)