Drinking water contamination in Flint, Michigan, has garnered nationwide attention, but it is neither isolated, nor a primarily urban problem. As Madeline Kane explains in the April issue of ELR—The Environmental Law Reporter, a hidden water crisis is straining thousands of smaller communities that share Flint’s risk factors—shrinking populations, social marginalization, and deficient funds.
Citizen science—the gathering of environmental data by non-professionals—has taken root across the United States and internationally. However, much of this activity has focused on public awareness and education; the connection to government agencies is less publicized.
At the request of EPA, ELI is investigating how state, tribal, and local environmental agencies are using citizen science in their work. We have found a tremendous diversity of approaches, from programs organized and led by government to cases in which agencies are the end-users of information gathered by others such as community groups. We have also found some areas in which contributions by members of the public could be of great value to state or local environmental programs.
Last month, new regulations took effect in California to address one of the most serious public health risks in the United States and around the world—particle pollution. The new regulations do not address vehicles, power plants, or other sources of pollution. Instead, they aim to reduce exposure to particle pollution where it occurs most—inside buildings. Particles in outdoor air enter buildings through cracks and gaps in the building and through natural or mechanical ventilation.
The packaging industry faces mounting shareholder and public pressure to reduce the environmental impact of plastic. The recycled plastics market in the United States is positioned for growth, but developing a reliable supply of post-consumer plastics will be costly. Reliance on export markets has limited investment in domestic recycling capacity, local collection programs vary considerably, and many consumers are ignorant about what can and cannot be recycled. The low cost of manufacturing virgin plastics compounds these challenges.
After almost getting hit by an Amazon Prime truck as I wandered around Greenwich Village, I started to look around at what was piling up in the foyers of posh condos and on the steps of the venerable brownstones. Maybe lying under these mountains of cardboard was a first edition of The Call of the Wild off eBay, but I doubted it.
Although it may not be a trending cocktail party topic, coal ash compliance activities are certainly well-known in the legal and environmental risk management community. Billions of dollars are at stake for the owners and operators of coal power plants impacted by the 2015 Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) rule.
My initial thought about this blog was to address a technical chemical regulatory topic, something like “why did it take 40 years for environmental regulators to figure out that perfluorinated compounds contaminate groundwater and don’t degrade over time?” However, this is ELI’s 50th anniversary year, and so I shall talk instead about the work I did over the course of about 15 years with ELI to address chemical regulatory and hazardous waste strategies both in the United States and abroad.
INECE Compliance Conversations Bring Together Experts and Practitioners to Discuss Effectiveness of Lead Paint Laws
The public health dangers posed by lead exposure have been recognized and documented since the mid-20th century. Despite the pervasiveness of lead-based paint in buildings, including homes and schools, experience has shown that laws can effectively address the issue by phasing out lead paint.
The Gulf Coast region historically is known for producing more seafood than anywhere else in the continental U.S., both in volume and dollar value. However, since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, fishing communities along the coast who depend upon healthy and vibrant marine habitats have experienced significant financial instability.