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Posts Tagged ‘air pollution’

Forget Those Smokestacks; Transportation Now the #1 U.S. Source of Greenhouse Gas

Gap is widening as power plant operators shift to renewables and natural gas.

by on Dec.05, 2017

Even though automakers have been reducing emissions, transportation sources haven't kept up with gains by power plant generation.

They were once the symbol of American manufacturing might, though in recent decades industrial smokestacks – and power plants, in particular – have come to represent a major problem as the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

But that has seen a radical shift. For the first time in 40 years, power plants are no longer the single-largest source of global warming gases. That dubious honor now goes to the transportation sector, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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That includes a broad mix of different sources within the transport sector, reports Bloomberg News, which analyzed the EIA data, including automobiles and trucks, as well as aircraft, trains and boats.


Death Due to Air Pollution on the Rise Globally

Despite efforts to clean up cars, problems still exist.

by on Mar.26, 2014

Traffic congestion has become a major challenge in China reducing air quality.

A new report from the World Health Organization gives everyone new reasons to be concerned when they see a traffic-induced haze hovering over a large city. The organization estimates one of every eight deaths around the world can be traced back to exposure to air pollution.

The group, also known as WHO, estimates that in 2012 roughly 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure. The report doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. “Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives,” according to the report.

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Cities such as Beijing, Moscow and Mexico City have long been infamous for poor air quality linked to heavy traffic. But even Paris, which is covered by Western Europe’s relatively strict pollution controls, has had serious trouble with air pollution in recent weeks. (more…)

Paris Latest City to Limit Autos

City of Lights has become the City of Smog.

by on Mar.18, 2014

Paris traffic along the Seine River.

It’s long been known as the City of Lights, but if current conditions continue, Paris might soon have to be renamed the City of Smog.

While much of the U.S. has been trapped in the deep freeze this winter, Europe has been unusually warm and that’s causing trouble with air quality.  Paris, in particular, has been experiencing its worst air pollution in years and has taken some emergency measures to clear out the toxic haze that’s made it difficult to even see the beacon atop the Eiffel Tower.

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The city barred nearly half of its vehicles from driving on Monday and is considering whether to extend that ban “depending on how the situation evolves,” according to a statement from the office of French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.


New Air Pollution Study Raises Concerns About Diesel

Study confirms air pollution causes lung cancer.

by on Oct.21, 2013

Diesel emissions have been linked to lung cancer, especially in emerging markets where pollution controls are minimal.

Government officials took the unusual step of closing some of the freeways in Beijing earlier this month, the latest in a series of increasingly frantic efforts to reduce the city’s seemingly endemic problems with air pollution so severe many residents now walk around wearing masks to reduce the amount of soot and smoke they breathe in.

They have reason to worry, warns a new study released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Based in Lyon, France, and the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, the IARC has formally declared what many medical experts have long suspected: that air pollution causes lung cancer.

The study points an accusing finger at a variety of sources, including the coal-burning power plants of China, the widespread agricultural operations of California – and the diesel cars and trucks found all over the world.

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“The air most people breathe has become polluted with a complicated mixture of cancer-causing substances,” said IARC department chief Kurt Straif told the Associated Press, warning that air pollution is now considered to create a more serious risk of lung cancer than second-hand cigarette smoke. The agency contends more than 220,000 people around the world died in 2010 due to cancers arising from air pollution.


Traffic Jams Tied to Wide Range of Health Problems in Young and Old

New studies link high exhaust levels to everything from autism to Alzheimers.

by on Nov.10, 2011

Is traffic a major health hazard?

Anyone who has ever spent an hour creeping ever so slowly forward in a seemingly endless traffic jam knows what such tie-ups can do to your blood pressure – but a series of recent studies suggest that the increased exhaust that congestion creates can create serious health issues not only for motorists but those living nearby a highway.

Studies from places as far-flung as Boston and Beijing show that such heavily polluted air may be linked to brain inflammation similar to what is seen in elderly Alzheimer’s patients, while children born to mothers who lived close to major roads were twice as likely to suffer from autism.

“There is real cause for concern,” Annette Kirshner, a neurochemist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, told the Wall Street Journal, though she cautioned that with much of the new research yet to be confirmed – or fully understood – “we ought to proceed with caution.”

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But there is little doubt the new research is worrisome — and may lend support to those who are calling for a widespread switch from the internal combustion engine to alternative power systems such as battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

Among the newer studies, researchers have found:

EPA Sets Renewable Fuel Standards below Mandate

Cellulosic volume is lower than the Congressional EISA target.

by on Jul.12, 2010

As always, the devil will be in the final rule details after lobbyists shape the regulations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed that the 2011 percentage standards for the four fuels categories under the agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard program must make up 7.95% of total gasoline sales.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) established annual renewable fuel volume targets, reaching an overall level of 36 billion gallons in 2022 – 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels; 15 billion gallons annually of conventional biofuels; 4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels; and 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel.

The 16-billion gallon cellulosic target looks laughable – EPA is projecting that less than 18 million gallons of the fuel will be available in 2011.

As the implications of the act continue to unfold, critics call it a needless subsidy for agri-business, one that would take food out of production.Hence the push for cellulosic since it can in theory be made form non-agricultural crops on land not in food production.

Mandating demand for products that don’t yet exist or haven’t been proven commercially viable or are not cost effective is the height of U.S. Congressional folly, in their view. In addition, a fierce debate about how much some of these fuels actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions is underway.

Almost every gallon of gasoline now sold in the U.S. contains ethanol: 98% as E10 – up to 10% ethanol for conventional autos, and 2% as E85 – 85% ethanol/15% gasoline for use in flex fuel vehicles only. (See How a Bad Bush Administration Energy Policy Begets More Bad Policy?)

Current law and infrastructure preclude the use of greater than 10% ethanol blends in conventional autos although agricultural industry lobbyists are pushing for higher levels. In 2012, the E10 market reaches saturation at approximately 12.5 – 14 billion gallons of ethanol annually. (See President Takes Steps to Boost Biofuels, Coal Use) EPA is considering upping the required amount of ethanol right now,  but isn’t due to rule until this fall.


To achieve the volumes required by EISA, EPA calculates a percentage-based standard for the following year. Based on the standard, each refiner, importer and non-oxygenate blender of gasoline determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must be used in transportation fuel.

The proposed 2011 overall volumes and standards are:

  • Biomass-based diesel (0.80 billion gallons – 0.68%)
  • Advanced biofuels (1.35 billion gallons – 0.77%)
  • Cellulosic biofuels (5 to 17.1 million gallons – 0.004-0.015%)
  • Total renewable fuels (13.95 billion gallons-7.95%)


EPA and Shanghai Launch AirNow International

Real time air quality information now in China as well as U.S.

by on May.10, 2010

AirNow provides air quality forecasts and real-time data for nearly 400 U.S. cities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) have launched AirNow International, which provides real-time air quality data reporting from the 2010 World Expo in a city with more than 17 million inhabitants.

The Shanghai EPB will use technology developed by EPA to send air quality data to Shanghai citizens through the Internet.

“AirNow has been an extraordinary tool for helping the public understand air pollution in the United States,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “We’re pleased to be working with Shanghai to use this technology to make real-time air quality data available in China.”

EPA and Shanghai EPB developed AirNow International, building from Shanghai’s existing air quality monitoring system. EPA provided technical assistance to Shanghai.

EPA and China’s air quality collaboration includes advanced air quality modeling to increase understanding of air pollution sources, and to reduce emissions from vehicles, power plants and other industries.

The two countries also are working together to address issues related to climate change, water, toxics, solid and hazardous wastes, and environmental governance.

EPA’s AirNow program has steadily expanded in its 11 years. The program provides air quality forecasts and real-time data reporting for nearly 400 U.S. cities. See

President’s Emerging Energy Plan Renews the Renewable Fuel Debate

A taxpayer subsidy to agribusiness could morph into another American War of Independence. But here come the lobbyists.

by on May.12, 2009

A New Jersey political background will help Jackson dealing with the mob of lobbyists.

A New Jersey political past will help Jackson with the mob of lobbyists.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is calling for a science-based review of the four renewable fuel categories that it announced earlier this month under its proposed Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2). For the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace. Also for the first time, all transportation fuels are covered, not just gasoline. EPA wants to determine if using bio fuels really do decrease greenhouse gas emissions when an analysis is conducted over the entire life of the fuels.

A political struggle is developing with corn-based ethanol producers and soy-based biomass diesel producers whose fuels likely will not meet the proposed tests. EPA has proposed some sort of grandfathering for existing production plants, but has limited the output to existing levels.

From an economic point of view, the current taxpayer subsidies for ethanol make no sense. Now the real possibility exists that some renewable fuels are unhealthy too. For producers and investors in these fuels, billions of dollars are at stake. A public hearing on June 9th will no doubt be lively.

The health issue is only the latest twist in the tortured road the EPA has been on over fuel economy and global warming standards. After a “thorough scientific review” ordered in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court, EPA issued a proposed finding in April that said greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution and may endanger public health or welfare. It is now moving ahead in several areas that will affect not only your future driving but the use of any machine that uses fuel.

The proposed RFS2 thresholds for the new fuel categories would be 20% less greenhouse gas emissions for renewable fuels produced from new facilities, 50% less for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels, and 60% less for cellulosic biofuels.    (more…)