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Deep Dive

How far up the creek?

On April 21, 2020, the EPA and the Department of the Army published a final rule in the Federal Register revising the definition of “Waters of the United States.” The Trump administration wanted to streamline the permitting process for miners, drillers, farmers and developers by narrowing the scope of regulation. As of the publication of the rule, only territorial waters and navigable streams, wetlands adjacent to them and certain ponds and lakes were left within the scope of the Clean Water Act. States and tribal areas are still free to enforce stricter rules and a broader definition of wetlands and waterways. But the water permitting data suggests that in the absence of federal regulation, states are not stepping up their efforts.

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Deep Dive

Energy Transition and Pollution – Manufacturing Impacts

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made its assessment of sector contribution to climate change, transportation weighed in at 11%, much of it from cars and light trucks. The car industry, through a combination of voluntary action and regulatory mandates, has moved to reduce emissions from its products. This is more than counterbalanced by the continued increase in private car ownership in emerging markets. One need only look at the number of cars per thousand inhabitants in India (70 in 2016) versus the US (816 in 2018) to get a sense of potential increases in transportation related GHG emissions as middle class ranks swell.

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Predictive Value

Predicting violations – The case of the outlying ratio

In the last blog we looked at different industries and how they deal with mitigating environmental impact. We used the waste-to-disposal ratio to assess an industry’s efforts and success in reducing the release of regulated chemicals into the air and water.

The same measure can be used to predict whether a company is likely to get into trouble with the regulator and be cited for violations of the Clear Air and Clean Water Acts.

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Mitigation Comparison

Dealing with waste – Industries are not created equal

In the last blog post, we examined the relationship between emission and production of chemicals, using year-over-year ratios to gauge environmental control behavior over time.

Another way to measure mitigation efforts across industries and companies is to look at total waste chemical amounts, and the portion of that waste that is released into the air or water. By dividing the released volume by the total, we get a sense of how well a company or an industry is doing in capturing and safely sequestering chemicals, whether through recycling or re-use.

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Mitigation Comparison

Measuring Mitigation

Comparing the emission profiles of facilities in the context of their industry provides insights into the variation in emission mitigation efforts by industry.

The variation in environmental release of harmful chemicals provides insights into a company’s control efforts over time and can highlight risks to the reputation and the operations of companies that have poor environmental controls.