Tag Archive: EPA

Planning New Jersey’s Energy Future

This is the third in a series of articles or news gathering of science and technology policy issues facing New Jersey or the nation. Thanks to my science and environment intern Arcadia Lee for research and drafting this article.  Cross-posted at DanBenson.com

Energy touches the lives of every New Jersey resident – every day. Our quality of life, our security, our prosperity, the land and water around us, and how we work and play all depend on energy. Energy master planning is an important aspect of proactive facilities management, providing an expertly defined and practical road-map to a sustainable future environment.

New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities Office of Clean Energy will be holding hearings this month to update the state’s Energy Master Plan.  

Adding to the Energy Master Plan’s importance is its relationship to the federal Clean Power Plan announced this week by President Obama.  The EPA is giving each state an individual goal for cutting power plant emissions. States can then decide for themselves how to get there.

Dismantling the EPA

Chris Christie has been a disaster for New Jersey’s environment. From his pull out from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to his stacking the Pinelands and Highlands Commissions with his proles, Christie has been a friend of polluters, not people. Here he is in Iowa, bragging about his dismal record.

Can Lisa Jackson clean up Apple?

Five months ago, when Lisa Jackson left the EPA, which she was running under President Barack Obama, there was a brief flurry of expectation that it meant a run for NJ governor against Christie, or that she’d become the new president of Princeton University, where she earned her MS in chemical engineering in 1986. But she took neither path.

Jackson, who served both as DEP commissioner and chief of staff for Gov. Corzine before her federal role, is going to work for Apple. Jackson will oversee Apple’s greentech and energy efficiency projects, including solar and biofuels.  She’ll report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Any solid forward movement Apple makes to clean up its compliance problems with Chinese regulations, discharge of toxic materials into the communities around the factories where Apple products are manufactured, and the impact of poor working conditions on the Chinese nationals who actually do some of the work that make Apple execs and investors so wealthy is good. I hope Jackson plays a key role there.

Especially considering it took Chinese environmental groups in the country where Apple products are built to light a fire under the company for stuff like this.

So she wrote, on her Mac Book built in China. Sigh.  

How do we make public health as sexy to media as terrorism?

chemicals

We all get mighty riled up when a couple of malcontents pack sharps into a pressure cooker at a famous sporting event. Completely understandable, particularly here on the east coast; that’s a fear we feel in our bones here, the way Boston feels it now.

But while America was glued to the Boston manhunt after the pressure cooker bombs, by comparison the media barely registered the town-leveling explosion in West, Texas – with much larger loss of life – ditto what the failures of its regulation signify for American workplace safety around chemicals, ditto the  fact that some members of the smaller-government faction that want federal dollars spent on the damage from what may be a company’s negligence, while displaced Sandy victims are beneath their concern.

Chemicals, and our everyday life with them, in our work, in our bodies, should be a sexy topic for the media. It’s not. Public health defenders should be hailed as rock stars. They’re not.

But that’s why I’m glad there are some grownups in Congress, though right now everything grownups do there seems like an uphill climb. Senators Lautenberg and Kirsten Gillibrand of NY got some decent news today from a report just released by the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO’s report finds, essentially, that the EPA doesn’t have the ammunition it needs to protect us from toxic chemicals, because current law is flawed, which Lautenberg has said for a long time. Lautenberg and Gillibrand’s Safe Chemicals Act of 2013 would beef up the law and give EPA the tools it needs to collect health and safety information, screen chemicals for safety, and require risk management when chemicals cannot be proven safe.  

We’re talking the stuff of your everyday life here – car seats, non-breakable plates for toddlers, detergents, your furniture, food packaging, electronics, vinyl products, non-stick cookware. What you’re touching, and breathing around right now. Testing by the CDC has found more than 212 industrial chemicals inside Americans’ bodies, including at least 6 known carcinogens and dozens linked to cancer, birth defects, other diseases.

Right now, EPA is severely limited in its ability to require safety testing for chemicals or limit harmful uses of toxic chemicals. They can require testing for only about 200 chemicals registered in the U.S. There are 84,000. Only 5 dangerous substances have been banned since the law was enacted – 37 years ago. In the chemical corridor that is New Jersey, that’s scary as hell.