In the decades before government regulations were put in place for landfills, anything and everything could be buried beneath the ground at an old dump site, some of which may still be releasing toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials into the Earth.
As buried organic materials decompose, they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Landfills and dumps buried over often become suburban home sites in later years, unbeknownst to people who may live on them. Landfills have a distinctive effect on air pollution, nature, land and humans. Soil in the area may be saturated with chemicals or hazardous substances. About two-thirds of landfill waste contains biodegradable organic matter from households, business and industry.
As this material decomposes, it releases methane gas. As a potent greenhouse gas, methane traps up to 20 times more heat in the atmosphere compared with carbon dioxide the EPA states. In the U. Oftentimes the air surrounding landfill sites smells unpleasant, due to the decaying organic waste. According to the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Forests, the development of a landfill site means the loss of approximately 30 to species per hectare.
Changes also occur in local species, with some mammals and birds being replaced by species that feed on refuse, such as rats and crows. Vegetation changes also occur, regardless of the duration of the landfill site, as some plant species are replaced by others. As rain falls on landfill sites, organic and inorganic constituents dissolve, forming highly toxic chemicals leaching into groundwater.
Water that rinses through these chemicals collects at the base of the landfill and usually contains high levels of toxic metals, ammonia, toxic organic compounds and pathogens. This can result in serious contamination of the local groundwater. Even more dangers, this mixture usually creates a high biological oxygen demand, meaning it can quickly de-oxygenate water.
If or when these noxious chemicals reach rivers or lakes, it could result in the death of aquatic life. The mixture of toxic substances and decaying organic material can impact the soil quality of the areas surrounding a landfill site.
This can compound the effects on biodiversity as local vegetation may cease to grow and be permanently altered. Landfill sites impact the natural landscape: they stink, they are trashy looking and a become a bacteria breeding ground.Environmental racism and failing infrastructure have plagued communities of color for decades. The environmental justice movement seeks to rectify the problems created from these issues by ensuring the fair treatment of all people from different races, ethnicities, and incomes with the laws, regulations, and policies that affect their environment.
The water contamination in Flint, Michigan, is just one window into the failures of infrastructure and environmental quality that have threatened communities across the country for generations. It has been more than days since President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency due to the contaminated water in Flint.
This column provides a snapshot of the environmental justice issues that communities of color across the country face every day. Decades of studies have proven that environmental racism is a threat to the health and overall safety of communities across the country. But this is not a problem without a solution.
Indeed, policymakers already have the tools to address this injustice and to develop policies with communities of color in mind. Effective environmental justice policies should safeguard communities as places where all people can live, work, and play without fear of exposure to toxic, deadly surroundings.
As people of color come to make up a majority of the population, environmental justice issues should be prioritized as national issues, not one-off problems siloed in cities with significant populations of color, such as Flint, Michigan. Communities of color have higher exposure rates to air pollution than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.
A Yale University study found that non-Hispanic whites had the lowest exposure rates for 11 of the 14 pollutants monitored in the study. Meanwhile, Hispanics had the highest exposure rates for 10 out of the 14 pollutants, and African Americans had higher exposure rates than whites for 13 out of the 14 pollutants. Some of the pollutants studied have been connected to asthma, cardiovascular issues, lung disease, and cancer. For example, a case study of The Bronx, New York, found that individuals who lived close to noxious industrial facilities and waste sites were 66 percent more likely to be hospitalized for asthma.
Significantly, these same individuals were 13 percent more likely to be people of color. Landfills, hazardous waste sites, and other industrial facilities are most often located in communities of color. A report by the Center for Effective Government found that people of color are nearly twice as likely as white residents to live within a fenceline zone of an industrial facility. These facilities contribute to air pollution, safety issuesand health concerns.
Lead poisoning disproportionately affects children of color. Children of color who live in urban areas are at the highest risk for lead poisoning caused by lead-based paint. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that Lead poisoning can result in a wide range of health problemssuch as anemia, seizures, and brain development issues. Even with the restrictions on lead paint usage, children of color who live in low-income communities continue to suffer the most.
For example, a report revealed that African American children and Hispanic children in Chicago were 12 times and 5 times more likely to be poisoned, respectively, than white children. Climate change disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color.
The effects of climate change, such as extreme weather conditions, have devastating consequences for communities of color and low-income communities. These extreme weather events can displace residents and even cause death. In the aftermath of such disasters, efforts of city officials to rebuild communities of color and low-income communities are often inadequate compared to efforts to rebuild higher-income and white communities. Perhaps the most powerful example of this inequity is the communities of color in New Orleans that were affected by Hurricane Katrina.Ethanol, which seemed like a good idea when huge federal subsidies and mandates were put in place a decade ago, now seems like a very poor idea indeed.
Yet despite years of bad ethanol reviewssome prominent figures including former Senator Tim Wirth and attorney C. Boyden Gray in the accompanying article offer a revanchist argument: Ethanol is not really so bad after all, and we should significantly increase its blending with gasoline from 10 to 30 percent.
As Samuel Johnson remarked of a second marriage, this narrative reads like a triumph of hope over experience.
The essence of the argument that we need more, not less, ethanol in our gas tanks is linked to the U. As for the environmental costs of increased corn production, they contend that vastly improved agricultural methods are steadily reducing the use of chemicals and fertilizers on cornfields.
The truth is, however, that growing corn in the U. Higher-ethanol blends still produce significant levels of air pollution, reduce fuel efficiency, jack up corn and other food prices, and have been treated with skepticism by some car manufacturers for the damage they do to engines.
Growing corn to run our cars was a bad idea 10 years ago. Increasing our reliance on corn ethanol in the coming decades is doubling down on a poor bet. The effort to rehabilitate corn ethanol is linked to the perceived insufficiency of federal mandates — known as the Renewable Fuel Standard — requiring an escalating quantity of ethanol from corn and cellulosic sources to be blended with gasoline annually until Cellulosic ethanol, which was supposed to supplant that made from corn in meeting the mandate, has proven a monumental disappointmentand the EPA has taken a big step back from requiring its use.
The ethanol industry and others are proposing raising the blend level to 30 percent. Without such a break in the blend wall, the renewable fuel standards mandates are in trouble. At present, though, fewer than 2 percent of filling stations in the U. Shrouded in the political fumes and corrosive influence of special interests, the economic fundamentals of ethanol are clear in the light of day.
Two prices determine its profitability: the price of corn and the price of oil. The higher the price of corn, the more expensive it is to divert from feeding animals or making high-fructose corn syrup and instead distill it as alcohol fuel for cars and trucks.
Second, the higher the price of oil, the more economically ethanol can be blended with gasoline. When corn is cheap and oil prices are high, ethanol margins are fat. But when corn prices rise and oil prices fall, ethanol margins are flat. As ethanol production took off in the mids, aided and abetted by a panoply of federal and state subsidies, it chewed up so much corn so fast that it was hoisted on its own petard as corn prices rose to record highs in while oil prices weakened.
Corn prices then fell back as farmers responded to high prices with record plantings. Today, oil prices remain low and corn prices are strengthening again. Despite recent weakness, corn prices remain nearly double their level of when the major elements of ethanol subsidies and mandates began to be put in place.
In the face of these tribulations, the revisionist ethanol narrative makes a number of shaky assumptions. To date, ethanol has been antithetical to fuel economy.
According to the U. Advocates of E30 argue that such inefficiencies can be overcome if high-compression engines are tuned to use the fuel and are certified under EPA rules, making such engines more akin to racecars.Site C: How do you move a river?
But this would mean further EPA regulatory backing for E30 to assure its availability. A key argument of E30 proponents is that higher-ethanol blends would reduce the need for alternative fuel additives that may have negative health effects.Jump to navigation. These rules ensure that licensees and registrants take appropriate measures to protect environmental and historic resources, and that the agency meets its obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act NEPA to consider the potential environmental impact of its actions, as well as under other environmental statutes such as the National Historic Preservation Act NHPA and the Endangered Species Act ESA.
A new tower construction requires:. Collocations may also require compliance with these same processes. Specifically, a state or local government may not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services, may not regulate in a manner that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services, must act on applications within a reasonable period of time, and must make any denial of an application in writing supported by substantial evidence in a written record.
The statute also preempts local decisions premised directly or indirectly on the environmental effects of radio frequency RF emissions, assuming that the provider is in compliance with the Commission's RF rules. Allegations that a state or local government has acted inconsistently with Section c 7 may be resolved by the courts. In Septemberthe Commission released the Wireless Infrastructure Third Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling to clarify the scope of Sections and c 7 in various deployment contexts, including the deployment of small cells.
Section a of the Communications Actenacted as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act ofestablishes a further limitation on state and local land use authority over certain wireless facilities. Specifically, it provides that a state or local government may not deny and shall approve any eligible facility request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station, and defines eligible facility requests as including requests for the collocation, removal, or replacement of transmission equipment.
The Commission has adopted a rule, codified at 47 C. NEPA requires agencies to consider and disclose the environmental effects of its actions to improve decision-making and encourage transparency, public participation, and accountability. NEPA has three levels of review, depending on the significance of the effect which, in turn, depends on the context and intensity of the action; for example, a tall, guyed tower in an ecologically sensitive area is likely to have more significant effects than a short, unguyed tower in an industrial area :.
Categorical exclusions CatExs —for actions or types of actions which individually and cumulatively are deemed to have minimal or no impacts on the environment. The actions may therefore qualify as excluded from detailed environmental analysis.
Environmental Assessments EAs —for actions that may have a significant effect, an EA determines potentially significant impacts. Environmental Impact Statements EISs —for major federal actions with the potential to significantly affect the quality of the human environment. These actions require a detailed analysis of actions and alternatives and concludes with a Record of Decision ROD.
NEPA does not mandate an outcome or prevent projects from moving forward; it only requires consideration of effects and of alternatives to mitigate the environmental effects of a project.
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The FCC considers registering and licensing towers and facilities intended to host licensed services to be major actions that trigger agency NEPA obligations. Facilities constructed by or for FCC licensees subject to environmental review must comply with agency environmental regulations implementing NEPA. Because licensees and registrants cannot locate on a facility that has not gone through a NEPA review, tower constructors that are neither licensees nor registrants must also follow these rules.
While the agency has delegated the initial assessment of CatExs and certification to that effect if required and preparation of EAs to licensees and applicants, compliance with NEPA rests with the FCC. The categories of facilities requiring environmental assessments EAs include those facilities:. After an EA is filed, the document is put on public notice for one month, during which time the FCC ensures its sufficiency.
Despite the presumption of actions being categorically excluded, the agency may order additional environmental review on issues beyond the above checklist, or upon consideration of public comments. The agency may also ask for mitigation to reduce project impacts. Granting of a license is NOT an authorization to build unless all environmental review requirements have been met.
Section 1. Applicants must therefore determine before constructing and before submitting an EA if required whether any proposed facility may affect listed, threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitats, or are likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any proposed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitats.
The U.Published Jul 14, Updated Mar 5, All energy sources have some impact on our environment. Fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—do substantially more harm than renewable energy sources by most measures, including air and water pollution, damage to public health, wildlife and habitat loss, water use, land use, and global warming emissions.
However, renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower also have environmental impacts, some of which are significant. The exact type and intensity of environmental impacts varies depending on the specific technology used, the geographic location, and a number of other factors. By understanding the current and potential environmental issues associated with each renewable energy source, we can takes steps to effectively avoid or minimize these impacts as they become a larger portion of our electric supply.
Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity as it produces no toxic pollution or global warming emissions. Wind is also abundant, inexhaustible, and affordable, which makes it a viable and large-scale alternative to fossil fuels. Despite its vast potential, there are a variety of environmental impacts associated with wind power generation that should be recognized and mitigated.
They include land use issues and challenges to wildlife and habitat. Like wind power, the sun provides a tremendous resource for generating clean and sustainable electricity. The environmental impacts associated with solar power can include land use and habitat loss, water use, and the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing, though the types of impacts vary greatly depending on the scale of the system and the technology used—photovoltaic PV solar cells or concentrating solar thermal plants CSP.
Geothermal plants also differ in terms of the technology they use to convert the resource to electricity direct steam, flash, or binary and the type of cooling technology they use water-cooled and air-cooled. Environmental impacts differ depending on the conversion and cooling technology used.
Biomass power plants share some similarities with fossil fuel power plants: both involve the combustion of a feedstock to generate electricity.
Thus, biomass plants raise similar, but not identical, concerns about air emissions and water use as fossil fuel plants. However, the feedstock of biomass plants can be sustainable produced, while fossil fuels are non-renewable. Sources of biomass resources for producing electricity are diverse, ranging from energy crops like switchgrassto agricultural waste, manure, forest products and waste, and urban waste.
Both the type of feedstock and the manner in which it is developed and harvested significantly affect land use and life-cycle global warming emissions impacts of producing power from biomass. Hydroelectric power includes both massive hydroelectric dams and small run-of-the-river plants.
Large-scale hydroelectric dams continue to be built in many parts of the world including China and Brazilbut it is unlikely that new facilities will be added to the existing US fleet in the future.
Instead, the future of hydroelectric power in the United States will likely involve increased capacity at current dams and new run-of-the-river projects. There are environmental impacts at both types of plants. Hydrokinetic energy, which includes wave and tidal power, encompasses an array of energy technologies, many of which still in the experimental stages or in the early stages of deployment. While actual impacts of large-scale operations have not been observed, a range of potential impacts can be projected.
Wind power Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity as it produces no toxic pollution or global warming emissions.
The potential environmental impacts associated with solar power depend on the technology, which includes two broad categories: photovoltaic solar cells and concentrating solar thermal plants.
Solar power Like wind power, the sun provides a tremendous resource for generating clean and sustainable electricity.The potential future effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions and an increase in the number, duration and intensity of tropical storms. Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner.
Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves. Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. According to the IPCC, the extent of climate change effects on individual regions will vary over time and with the ability of different societal and environmental systems to mitigate or adapt to change.
The IPCC predicts that increases in global mean temperature of less than 1. Net annual costs will increase over time as global temperatures increase. Some of the long-term effects of global climate change in the United States are as follows, according to the Third and Fourth National Climate Assessment Reports:. Global climate is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond.
Go backward and forward in time with this interactive visualization that illustrates how the Earth's climate has changed in recent history. Because human-induced warming is superimposed on a naturally varying climate, the temperature rise has not been, and will not be, uniform or smooth across the country or over time.
The length of the frost-free season and the corresponding growing season has been increasing nationally since the s, with the largest increases occurring in the western United States, affecting ecosystems and agriculture. Across the United States, the growing season is projected to continue to lengthen. In a future in which heat-trapping gas emissions continue to grow, increases of a month or more in the lengths of the frost-free and growing seasons are projected across most of the U.
The largest increases in the frost-free season more than eight weeks are projected for the western U. The increases will be considerably smaller if heat-trapping gas emissions are reduced. This NASA visualization presents observational evidence that the growing season climatological spring is occurring earlier in the Northern Hemisphere.
Average U. More winter and spring precipitation is projected for the northern United States, and less for the Southwest, over this century. Projections of future climate over the U.
This trend is projected to occur even in regions where total precipitation is expected to decrease, such as the Southwest. These NASA visualizations show model projections of the precipitation changes from to as a percentage difference between the year precipitation averages and the average.
The official website for NASA's fleet of Earth science missions that study rainfall and other types precipitation around the globe. How much do you know about Earth's water cycle and the crucial role it plays in our climate? Droughts in the Southwest and heat waves periods of abnormally hot weather lasting days to weeks everywhere are projected to become more intense, and cold waves less intense everywhere.
Summer temperatures are projected to continue rising, and a reduction of soil moisture, which exacerbates heat waves, is projected for much of the western and central U. By the end of this century, what have been once-inyear extreme heat days one-day events are projected to occur every two or three years over most of the nation.
Droughts in the Southwest and Central Plains of the United States in the second half of the 21st century could be drier and longer than anything humans have seen in those regions in the last 1, years, according to a NASA study published in Science Advances on February 12, The intensity, frequency and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes, as well as the frequency of the strongest Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, have all increased since the early s.
The relative contributions of human and natural causes to these increases are still uncertain. Hurricane-associated storm intensity and rainfall rates are projected to increase as the climate continues to warm. This video explains the findings of this study. Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks.
A s with production and use of any fuels, aspects of biofuel production and use have benefits and adverse effects. This chapter discusses potential environmental effects from the production and use of algal biofuels, the potential influence of perceived or actual impacts on societal acceptance, and some of the health impacts potentially emanating from the specific environmental effects.
Potential environmental effects discussed in this chapter include those resulting from land-use changes, water quality, net greenhousegas GHG emissions, air quality, biodiversity, waste generation, and effects from genetically engineered algae with an emphasis on new or enhanced traits.
Where possible, this chapter discusses the potential for algal biofuels to improve aspects of sustainability compared to petroleum-based fuels and other biofuels and the potential for mitigating negative effects along the life cycle of algal biofuel. Environmental indicators of sustainability and data to be collected to assess sustainability are suggested. In some environments and biofuel management systems, metrics for assessing environmental performance are easy to measure and adequate baseline data are available, but that is not the case in all systems.
A number of potential environmental concerns are evident, and if the concerns are not addressed they could become significant risks under large-scale deployment. As in any other industrial or agricultural enterprise, once they are recognized, such risks can be managed by standards or regulations so that industry is required to reduce effects to acceptable levels.
For the sake of comprehensiveness, a number of potential environmental risks are mentioned in this chapter, but some are less likely to occur than others. Some of the environmental risks might require exploratory assessment and subsequent monitoring to ensure that they do not become sustainability concerns if algal biofuel production is scaled up.
Producing algal biofuels could improve or harm water quality depending on the resource input and management used in algae cultivation, weather events, integrity of infrastructure, and processing of spent water. Water-quality concerns associated with commercial-scale production of algal biofuels, if sufficient culture waters are released to natural environments, include eutrophication of waters, contamination of groundwater, and salinization of water sources.
Potential water-quality benefits are reduced runoff of herbicides and insecticides compared to corn-grain ethanol or soybean-based biodiesel because of their reduced use, and reduced eutrophication if there are no releases of culture water or if algae are used as a means to remove nutrients from municipal waste, confined animal feeding operations, and other liquid wastes.
Water-quality effects will depend on the nutrient content of the algal culture medium; whether feedstock production systems are sealed, artificially lined, or clay lined; and the likelihood of extreme precipitation events. Leakage of culture fluid to groundwater or surface water could occur if the integrity of the pond or trough system is compromised, if flooding occurs, or if spills occur during transfers of fluid during process stages or waste removal, but most of these events could be avoided with proper management.
As discussed in Chapter 4the water for algae cultivation is likely to be reclaimed and reused to reduce the water requirement and consumptive water use.
The liquid effluent also can be recycled from anaerobic digestion of lipid-extracted algae to produce biogas Davis et al. If harvest water is to be released instead of recycled, it or effluent from anaerobic digestion would contain nitrogen N and phosphorus Pthe concentrations of which depend on the nitrogen and phosphorus taken up by the harvested algal biomass Sturm and Lamer, Released waters could be more saline than receiving waters, particularly if water from saline aquifers is used for algae cultivation.
Such point-source discharge will be regulated by the Clean Water Act, and a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit would have to be obtained to operate the algae cultivation facilities EPA, a. However, permit violation has been observed in some biofuel refineries.
The Case Against More Ethanol: It’s Simply Bad for Environment
Regulation and compliance assurance would address concerns about release of harvest water. The potential for accidental release of cultivation water exists; for example, clay or plastic liners could be breached through normal weathering or from extreme weather events, some of which are predictable.
High precipitation or winds could lead to overtopping of ponds or above-grade raceways. In those cases, the entire contents of algal cultures could be lost to surface runoff and leaching to surface water or groundwater. Siting in areas prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes would increase the likelihood of accidental releases.
However, producers are likely to take preventive measures when extreme weather events are forecasted, and they would put effort into preventing accidental releases of cultivation water because such events could adversely affect their profit margin. Large-scale algae cultivation requires the provision of large quantities of nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, to ensure high yield see section Nutrients in Chapter 4. Even where nitrogen and phosphorus are not in oversupply, the total nutrient concentrations in algal biomass will be high.