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Deep Dive

Refineries – You control some

Another big contributor to greenhouse gases and toxic chemical emissions are petroleum refineries. Companies have succeeded in controlling some but not all chemicals. Nitrogen compounds, which also show up as an area of concern in the monthly wastewater data published by the EPA, are particularly stubborn.

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Deep Dive

Fueled – The Power Sector

Decarbonization too often is reduced to electrification (ban all gas stoves). Obviously it matters how power is generated, and a lot has been happening on that front.

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Deep Dive

Materials – Driving toxic volume

Once we break down the toxic release data further to find the industrial activities that release the highest amount of chemicals, materials manufacturing comes to the fore. Emissions and emission rates have moderated, but there are factors beyond the recovery from the pandemic that will push them higher.

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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.