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Entries in EPA (42)

Monday
Jul272015

Early Warning System Created for Harmful Algal Blooms

Lake Erie algal boom. Photo by Michigan Sea Grant

Four federal agencies have joined forces to create an early warning system for toxic and nuisance algal blooms (HABs) in the Great Lakes and other freshwater systems.

Harmful algal blooms have emerged as a significant public health and economic issue that requires extensive scientific investigation,” said Suzette Kimball, acting director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

USGS, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will use satellites to gather color dates from freshwater bodies during scans of the Earth. They then will share the findings with state and local agencies so they can provide public health advisories when needed.

“In addition, the project will improve the understanding of the environmental causes and health effects of these cyanobacteria and phytoplankton blooms in the United States,” NOAA said in a press release.

NOAA added that these blooms are a global problem. “Cyanobacteria (blue-green alga)  is of particular concern because it produces toxins that can kill wildlife and domestic animals and cause illness in humans through exposure to contaminated freshwater and consumption of contaminated drinking water, fish, or shellfish,” it said.

HABs have been on the increase since the mid 1990s, according to Michigan Sea Grant College Program. In the Great Lakes, malfunctioning septic systems, products with phosphates (dishwater detergent) and nitrogen (lawn fertilizers), and urban and agricultural runoff likely have contributed.

“Some scientists also link the increase of harmful algal blooms to the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels in the Great Lakes and the ability of the mussels to filter feed,” Sea Grant said. “Essentially, they eat the good algae and phytoplankton but release organisms like blue-green algae back into the water intact.”

HABs annually cost the nation about $64 million because of loss of recreational usage, additional treatment for drinking water, and decline in waterfront property values. In August 2014, Toledo, Ohio, an algal bloom in Lake Erie forced Toledo, Ohio, officials to temporarily ban consumption of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents.

The new collaborative network will build on previous NASA ocean satellite sensor technologies created to study microscopic algal communities in the ocean, which play a role in climate change, ocean ecology, and the movement of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and ocean.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Want Even More Ethanol in Your Fuel? It Could Happen

As thousands of boat owners can attest, E10 (10 percent) has damaged or destroyed their  marine engines.

So . . . how would you feel about the EPA increasing the amount of ethanol that must be blended into the nation's fuel supply for 2015 and 2016? This move would require the use of a record amount of ethanol, forcing higher-level blends in more gas stations.

As if E10 (10 percent ethanol) weren't bad enough , the agency permitted E15 in 2010 to reach the total ethanol usage goal required by the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, lawnmowers, etc. can't use E15, nor can vehicles made before 2001. Even so, E15 is now found in 24 states at the same pumps as E10.

"Millions of recreational boaters fill their boat's fuel tanks where the higher blend ethanol fuels are often the cheapest fuel at the pump," says BoatU.S. "The only warning you may have is one sticker mixed in with all the other warning labels on the pump. This creates a huge potential for misfueling and puts boaters at risk of using fuel that will damage their engines."

If you want to tell EPA how you feel about its proposal to force even more ethanol  into our fuel, go to this BoatU.S. site.

Wednesday
Jul082015

California Could Ban Lead, Zinc, Copper Fishing Tackle

Unless public outcry forces a reversal by the California Department of Toxic Substances (CDTS),  the state is moving ahead with regulations that could ban fishing gear that contains lead, zinc, and copper. This follows quickly after the recent announcement that lead ammunition will not be allowed on state property and for all bighorn sheep hunting.

“It appears that politics, rather than science, was the basis for CDTS’s decision. While there are many sources of pollution that pose a serious threat to California’s ocean and streams, anglers are not among them,” said David Dickerson, president of the California Sportfishing League (CSL), which is spearheading opposition to the potential ban.

An environmental attorney and former CDTS director added that sellers and retailers of fishing tackle likely will be subjected to costly and onerous regulations, as well as potential fines.

“The result could be a wide range of enforcement options requiring restrictions or bans on sale, product reformulation, additional environmental impact studies, development of disposal programs, or funding for fundamental research and development,” said Maureen Gorsen. “The bottom line is that the cost of manufacturing fishing gear will increase significantly and these costs will be passed on to consumers.”

CDTS’s intentions were revealed in its draft of a Priority Product Work Plan for the Green Chemistry Initiative, which identifies seven product types, including fishing gear, for regulation and/or ban. Legislation authorizing the initiative was passed in 2008, but implementation was delayed for more than five years because of complexity and the potential for massive costs to small businesses, according to John Kabateck, California executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“Green Chemistry is yet another example of Sacramento pursuing its agenda of environmental extremism without any concern for costs to consumers or California’s economic future,” he wrote in the Sacramento Business Journal in 2013.

 “The department has issued a broad proposal that will enable it to regulate the manufacturing and distribution of any product it chooses that could impose unworkable burdens on tens of thousands of small businesses in the state.”

And CDTS is doing so with fishing tackle even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2010 that lead gear does not pose an unreasonable risk to wildlife.  Also, a recently passed budget bill contains a provision to prohibit the use of federal dollars to ban lead fishing tackle.

In public hearings, the department admitted that it has no scientific studies to show that lead poses an environmental problem in California, added Dickerson. “State regulators failed to comply with state law that requires them to conduct an independent analysis before including any product in this regulatory process,” he said.

The CSL president predicted that additional regulations will encourage businesses to flee California to more business friendly states. “Furthermore, when fishing is no longer an accessible and affordable source of recreation for millions of anglers, it will have a substantial impact on California’s economy and jobs.”

A recent CSL study revealed that fishing license sales have dropped more than 55 percent since 1980, with the state ranking last nationally in fishing participation by percentage of its population.

“The high cost of fishing licenses and unwarranted limits on fishing have contributed to a significant decline in participation,” Dickerson said. “Increasing the cost of gear and potential bans will only accelerate the decline, and threaten California jobs that are dependent on outdoor recreation and tourism.”

In addition to CSL, others lobbying for delisting of fishing gear include the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Travel Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the California Parks Hospitality Association, the California Association for Recreational Fishing, the American Sportfishing Association,  and Coastside Fishing Club.

Anglers who want to voice their opposition to a lead ban can sign at petition on CSL’s website.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

 

Thursday
Jun112015

EPA Plans to Force More Ethanol Into Fuel

Despite the negative effects and abject failure of ethanol, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to force more of it into our fuel in 2015 and 2016.

The only ones who will benefit from this are those who grow corn and produce ethanol, and possibly their political friends in Washington, D.C. who receive something under the table. Ethanol-blended fuel is less efficient than regular gasoline. It’s also harmful to the environment and has caused millions of dollars in damage to outboard and other internal combustion engines.

And by mandating that more ethanol be used in gasoline, EPA increases the likelihood that even more engines will be destroyed.

Go here to speak out against the decision.

And check out this posted at Boating:

  • Corn ethanol does not lower CO2 compared to gas.
  • Corn ethanol causes a larger dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Corn ethanol leads to nitrogen fertilizer polluted ground water.
  • Corn ethanol leads to pollution from pesticides.
  • Corn ethanol leads to plowing of grass lands to add corn fields.
  • Corn ethanol leads to destruction of forest lands to add corn fields.
  • Corn ethanol is increasing the Ogallala Aquifer depletion.
  • Corn ethanol pollutes the air with formaldehydes and acetaldehyde.
  • Corn ethanol use leads to higher levels of ozone pollution.
  • Corn ethanol is often distilled using coal as a heat source.
  • Corn ethanol distillers exhaust high levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) pollution.
Thursday
Mar192015

Still No Plan to Address Susquehanna's Sick Smallmouth Bass

Despite evidence that smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River are ill, state and federal officials refuse to categorize the waterway as “impaired.” And until it receives that designation, a plan can’t be developed to address the problem, which probably is pollution.

"We are absolutely certain that the smallmouth bass population of the middle Susquehanna River is sick, based upon the continuing presence of lesions and tumors in young and adult bass," said John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fishing and Boating Commission (PFBC).

"We've been collecting data since 2005, and believe that these fish health issues are causing a decline in the population, which means the river is sick. It is not necessary to know the exact source or cause of the sickness before the Commonwealth declares the river as impaired."

Yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supported the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in its decision to exclude nearly 100 miles of the Susquehanna in its 2014 Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report.

In 2012, PFBC asked DEP to declare that section of the river from Sunbury to Holtwood Dam, near the Maryland border, as impaired. Both then and in 2014, DEP asserted that it lacked sufficient data to make that determination.

Now the earliest that the river could be declared impaired is 2016.

Update

Arway recently spoke to the game and fisheries committee of the state House of Representatives about this issue. According to Triblive.com, here's what happened:

He also continued his call to have the Susquehanna River officially declared “impaired.” Once the premier flowing smallmouth bass fishery on the East Coast, it's been in decline in recent years, with smallmouth bass populations shrinking and more and more fish showing up sick, he said.

The commission, state Department of Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency are doing a study to determine what's causing the problems, he said. A report is due by September.

After that, action needs to be taken, he said. Sick bass have been showing up since 2005, but no one's done anything but collect data since, Arway said.

An impaired designation would set the stage for a corrective plan, he added.

“We know the fish are sick. The (Department of Environmental Protection) admits the fish are sick. The question is, why are they sick and what are we going to do about it? And we haven't started down that road yet,” Arway said.