Tag Archives: regulations

Are Electric Cars Really Greener?

Electric cars are kind of a divisive issue. Those who drive electric vehicles often wax poetic about how much better they are for the environment while others, like the author of this Politico piece, like to point out all the ways that electric cars aren’t as green as they are made out to be.

What’s the truth about electric cars? It’s complicated.

Let’s talk about batteries.

On the one hand, the battery for electric cars is an environmental issue in its own right.

The rare, lightweight metals used in the batteries and throughout the cars often come from?not so eco mines?that are hugely environmentally polluting. Plus, as few as 5 percent of the lithium batteries used in electric vehicles actually get recycled (in the EU), which means they just sit in landfills and leach toxins into the environment. However,?Tesla claims to have a battery recycling plan that is actually cost-effective for both manufacturers and?recycling plants, which could improve the battery issue.

And while the manufacturing of electric cars produces more carbon emissions than manufacturing a gas-powered car, one look at Musk’s solar-powered Gigafactory puts that argument to rest.

Electric vehicle production may be secretly more dirty than you’d expect, it’s something that innovative companies like Tesla are working?to?tackle. When it comes to?of fueling electric vehicles, though, they’re as green as you make them.

The way you charge your electric car matters.

According to the author of Politico?s recent piece, increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road will actually increase pollution. The idea is that new models of internal combustion vehicles are actually extraordinarily efficient, which is true.

?Today?s vehicles emit only about 1% of the pollution than they did in the 1960s, and new innovations continue to improve those engines? efficiency and cleanliness,? according to author Jonathan Lesser.

When comparing that sort of low?emissions pollution with the pollution caused by traditionally-powered electric vehicles, yes. A new gas-powered car is probably greener than a new, grid-powered electric car right now. But that only factors in electric vehicles charged through the grid.

Solar power, one of the cleanest and most independent forms of renewable electricity, needs to be taken into?serious consideration. The author relies on a projection regarding?the increase of renewables pumped into the grid, which may hit 30 percent by 2030–not enough to keep things clean for electric cars. But that bleak outlook only takes into account our existing infrastructure.

We need to ditch fossil fuels.

When considering the environmental cleanliness of new gas cars versus electric cars, one big factor that needs to be taken into consideration is the importance of getting our planet off of a dependence on fossil fuels.

While less-polluting gas cars are wonderful, they are still gas cars. They will always only be powered by oil and gas. An electric car, on the other hand, can be powered just as easily by?wind or solar as by fossil fuels, if the infrastructure were?there to support it.

And that’s why we need more electric cars. Sure, as they currently exist?they may not be as pristine and clean as we like to believe, depending on how you fuel them. But the renewable energy infrastructure will not grow around them unless there is a demand.

We need people driving clean electric cars to push towns, cities, and states to enact widespread projects to provide clean sustainable energy for the surge in electrically powered vehicles. That’s how we will begin to cut off our dependence on polluting fossil fuels.

Solar is the future (and the present) for electric charging.

I have always associated electric cars with solar charging. The vast majority of electric car charging stations I see?are solar powered. Even?certain grocery stores?have implemented free solar charging stations to reward?environmentally-conscious customers while they shop.

While I?can’t speak for the whole country, buying an expensive electric vehicle like a Tesla only makes financial sense if the electricity is very affordable–as it is at many?solar charging stations, including long term use of a personal solar station at home.

Granted, not everyone will exclusively use solar to power their cars. With the rise in popularity of luxury electric vehicles, it is natural that those who are less eco-minded but desire to indulge?their wealth will?buy a fancy electric car and not discriminate between renewable charging stations and fossil fuels. But that?doesn?t mean electric cars are actually worse for the environment. It means we need to make it easier for the indiscriminate to cleanly charge them.

Our infrastructure needs to grow and evolve in tandem with our vehicles. An electric car is a move towards cleaner energy. It should be charged that way, too.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Are Electric Cars Really Greener?

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Don Blankenship, fresh outta federal prison, has outlined his campaign platform.

The Environmental Protection Agency relaxed regulations on some major sources of pollution on Thursday. The agency repealed its “once in, always in” policy under the Clean Air Act, which had been used to regulate major polluters since 1995.

Basically: Until just now, if you own a factory or power plant that qualified as a major polluter, but was modified to reduce hazardous output, you still had to comply with the regulations that apply to major polluters.

Why is it important to regulate sources of pollution even after they’re retrofitted to emit less? Because industry has a tendency to do the bare minimum to bring factories just below the “major polluter” threshold to subvert regulations.

The “once in, always in” rule has been effective in mitigating some of the negative effects of air pollution, which include brain damage, infertility, and cancer.

That’s why environmentalists are up in arms about the EPA’s decision to repeal the policy. It’s possible that hundreds of factories will profit from the reduced regulation.

“And those harmed most would be nearby communities already suffering a legacy of pollution,” John Walke, the NRDC’s clean air director, said in a statement.

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Don Blankenship, fresh outta federal prison, has outlined his campaign platform.

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Trump and Zinke go all in on offshore drilling.

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Trump and Zinke go all in on offshore drilling.

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Trump’s latest move could throw environmental rulemaking into chaos.

On Monday, the president signed “a big one”: an executive order mandating that for every new regulation created, two regulations must be eliminated.

The order also says that the total cost of regulatory changes should be zero. Rules related to the military, national security, and foreign affairs are exempted, of course.

Experts are scratching their heads over what this will mean. “The whole rule-writing area is now in complete chaos and environmental rules are going to be caught up in that,” said Georgetown environmental law professor Hope Babcock.

“An agency can’t just say here’s a regulation and goodbye two,” said Georgetown law professor William Buzbee. “Every change in regulation requires a new rulemaking. What this will really do — this is requiring so much work — is most agencies will have incentives to avoid doing any rulemaking.”

And getting rid of regulations isn’t easy. The president has to “faithfully execute” all laws and cannot undo agency regulations that enforce laws like the Clean Air Act. Any rollback, such as eliminating a species from the endangered list, would have to be completed in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, which takes time, according to Babcock. “You can’t just by executive fiat rescind a rule,” she said.

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Trump’s latest move could throw environmental rulemaking into chaos.

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Guardian: American Cities "Cheat" on Lead Testing of Tap Water

Mother Jones

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The Guardian claims that “at least 33” large American cities use testing methods deliberately designed to undercount the presence of lead in tap water:

Of these cities, 21 used the same water testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint over their role in one of the worst public health disasters in US history.

….Testing methods that can avoid detecting lead include asking testers to run faucets before the test period, known as “pre-flushing”; to remove faucet filters called “aerators”; and to slowly fill sample bottles. The EPA reiterated in February that these lead-reducing methods go against its guidelines, and the Flint charges show they may now be criminal acts.

….The EPA has warned since 2008 that pre-flushing is problematic and goes against the “intent” of regulations designed to detect lead….Further distortion is achieved through the removal of “aerators” — the small metal filters at the tip of faucets. These filters can collect lead particles and add to lead detected in tests.

I don’t know how serious this is. I suppose no one will know until these cities collect data properly and compare it to their old results. The EPA says it plans to release new testing rules in 2017.

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Guardian: American Cities "Cheat" on Lead Testing of Tap Water

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These Porn Stars Want the Government Off Their Backs

Mother Jones

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Dozens of porn stars—some in business casual, others more colorfully dressed—mingled outside the Elihu M. Harris State Building auditorium in Oakland, California, on Thursday morning, trading notes on the speeches they planned to make when they testified before California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHA). After six years of advisory committees and meetings, the board was set to vote on a package of regulations they hoped would protect the actors against sexually transmitted infections—a measure publicized as a “condoms in porn” mandate. But workers in the porn industry opposed the rules, which they said did not account for the realities of their work or respect for their personal autonomy. The Free Speech Coalition, a porn industry trade group, brought porn stars from Los Angeles to join others from San Francisco’s kink- and gay-porn scenes in speaking out against the regulations.

“We’re not fighting safety,” Mickey Mod, a veteran porn performer and producer, told the panel. “These are our bodies, and we work with them every day. Every day, I trust the men and women who are on our side to be as safe as possible.”

Since the regulations were first proposed in 2009, some porn advocates and public-health academics have offered suggestions that they say make the rules more realistic for those in the multibillion-dollar industry. Many of them say they have felt ignored. On one draft of the regulations, the OSHA board dismissed all of the Free Speech Coalition’s 37 concerns, including objections that the measure failed to sufficiently protect workers’ medical privacy and ignored the possibility of using HIV-prevention drugs as an option for protection. “We understand that they feel it will affect their livelihood, but Cal/OSHA’s primary concern is the health and safety of workers,” an exasperated public information officer from the California Department of Industrial Relations, which includes OSHA, told me before the meeting.

A few minutes before the meeting, Eric Paul Leue, the Free Speech Coalition’s executive director, spoke privately to the workers, urging them to stay optimistic and reminding them that the OSHA board was in a difficult position. “Usually, workers and the board are fighting employers,” he said. “In this case, the workers and employers are fighting together.”

After nearly five hours of testimony, in which about 100 performers, directors, and production staff members spoke against the package of regulations—and a few former performers expressed support for it—the OSHA board struggled with the apparent contradiction of workers who were actively opposed to the OSHA protections. “I’m a labor representative. I work with working people for a living,” Dave Harrison, an OSHA board member, said. When he first heard about the regulations, “it was almost like, ‘Oh, okay, the porn industry’s coming out for an issue. What’s going to happen here?'” He chuckled. “But as the rule-making process works through, I’m actually more torn over this than I could ever explain.”

For the measure to succeed, four votes were needed, but it failed in a final vote when three board members voted for the regulations and two opposed it.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposed rules and the conflict that surrounds them:

What did OSHA propose? Some regulations already exist, but the ones that were proposed would have added a section to the OSHA code that specifically described the actions porn producers needed to take to protect workers from STIs. The regulations would have required the use of condoms, plastic barriers (known as “dental dams”) for oral sex, gloves, goggles, and other gear to block contact with bodily fluids that can carry infection. Similar requirements for all industries already exist under federal and state regulations, but they’re not well enforced. Since 2004, when OSHA began enforcing STI regulations at porn companies, they’ve only issued a handful of citations. Proponents argued that new regulations were needed to clarify the responsibilities of adult-film producers.

If condoms are already required, why is this a big deal? Because the porn industry ignores the condom requirement. Many industry workers argue that porn viewers do not “want to see dental dams, they don’t want to see gloves, they don’t want to see kissing with something in between,” explains Kevin Quintero, a cameraman for Treasure Island Media, a San Francisco-based gay-porn production studio. “That ruins their suspension of disbelief.” But if the proposal resulted in more aggressive enforcement, producers and performers say they would be forced to move away from California or to find work “underground.” Quintero says that would mean working for producers “who promote drug use, promote unsafe situations, who don’t care about their performers’ safety, usually only care about the ‘money shot’ or getting what they need. Oftentimes, it can be exploitative…I fought really hard to get out.”

What other regulations would the industry face? The proposal also would have put new testing regulations in place, requiring vaccinations and STI testing every three months. The requirements would have been less stringent than unofficial regulations that already exist in the porn industry under a system known as PASS, in which actors must pass a blood test every two weeks or they are not permitted to work. Repeatedly, performers have stressed that they feel safer having sex with other porn stars in the PASS system than they do with “civilians” outside of work. Some have also raised concerns about the possibility of confidential medical information being shared with their employers.

What’s the opposing position? OSHA argues that frequent testing isn’t the same as prevention. Several performers testified Thursday that they’d gone entire careers without contracting an STI, but past research has indicated a high rate of gonorrhea and chlamydia among performers. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report documenting an incident involving male adult-film actors, in which an actor received a false-negative result on an HIV test in 2014 and then went on to infect two other people before his next testing date. Newly HIV-positive performers have forced the industry to declare periodic shutdowns, during which production is suspended for a few days while all the actors receive testing. Advocates have maintained that most infected performers do not contract HIV on set.

That’s no comfort to Sofia Delgado, one of the few performers who supported the regulations at the OSHA meeting. Delgado told me that she had been working in porn for just months when she tested positive for HIV in 2013, at age 20. Afterward, she couldn’t work, and now she says she’s saddled with thousands of dollars in medical expenses each month. “I felt so safe,” Delgado told me. “Everybody I was with was tested, but it didn’t matter.” If her partners had been using condoms, she says, she would at least be sure she didn’t contract HIV while working. Back then, PASS required testing once a month. “You’re having sex every day, so for 30 days you’re exposing God knows how many people to disease,” she said.

Additionally, the new regulations would have required producers, not actors, to pay for tests, saving employees hundreds of dollars per month—a point that none of the workers brought up in their anti-regulation presentations.

What does this mean for porn? The failure of the regulations will likely keep producers from moving out-of-state to avoid fines and hassle. After Los Angeles County passed a law in 2012 that required porn actors to wear condoms and companies to pay a fee to the county’s department of public health, the county saw a 95 percent drop-off in film production permits, which means companies either left, went “underground,” or filmed without permits.

What’s next? The fight over safe-sex precautions in porn will continue despite the defeat of the OSHA proposal. The next time it will be in the form of a proposition appearing on the 2016 California ballot. In the meantime, the OSHA regulators will go back to the drawing board—only this time, members of the board noted, they will listen more closely to the concerns of those in the industry.

Meanwhile, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which submitted the original petition to OSHA to amend the regulations in 2009, has also pledged to file a new petition. The foundation, which is controversial among AIDS activists for its objection to HIV-prevention medication, is also behind the statewide ballot initiative as well as several lawsuits attempting to compel condom use in porn.

“I always expect the establishment to not hear us, not respect us, not listen to us, not pay attention to our lived experience,” says Nina Hartley, a longtime performer and outspoken porn advocate. “This shows that some people are open to hearing challenging ideas and maybe changing their opinion. I don’t know if anybody on the board likes porn, but they are clearly seeing us as humans, as actual people, and not just as a projection and not a stereotype, and that’s huge.”

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These Porn Stars Want the Government Off Their Backs

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Martin Luther King, Jr.: ‘All Life is Interrelated.’


Martin Luther King, Jr.: ‘All Life is Interrelated.’

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Twitter Chat About New E.P.A. Carbon Pollution Regulations

Coral Davenport answered questions from readers about President Obama’s announcement of regulations to cut carbon pollution. Follow this link:  Twitter Chat About New E.P.A. Carbon Pollution Regulations ; ;Related ArticlesDot Earth Blog: Tracking Obama’s Climate Rules for Power PlantsNews Analysis: Trying to Reclaim Leadership on Climate ChangeObama to Take Action to Cut Carbon Pollution ;


Twitter Chat About New E.P.A. Carbon Pollution Regulations

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