Monthly Archives: February 2017

Water Transfer Rule upheld by 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in a 2-1 ruling reversed a lower court finding EPA’s Clean Water Act (CWA) rule exempting the transfer of water from one basin to another from discharge permits is a reasonable interpretation of the law, and therefore should be upheld under the agency judicial deference doctrine known as Chevron. The full ruling is here. An excerpt is below:

Before: SACK, CHIN, and CARNEY, Circuit Judges.

In 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency promulgated the ʺWater Transfers Rule,ʺ which formalized the Agencyʹs longstanding position that water transfers are not subject to regulation under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting program established decades ago by the Clean Water Act.  Shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs, a consortium of environmental conservation and sporting organizations and several state, provincial, and tribal governments, challenged the Water Transfers Rule by bringing suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the Agency and its Administrator.  After a variety of persons and entities on both sides of the issue intervened, the district court (Kenneth M. Karas, Judge) granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs on the ground that the Water Transfers Rule, although entitled to deferential review under the two‐step framework established by Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984), could not survive judicial scrutiny because it was based on an unreasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act.  The district court accordingly vacated the Water Transfers Rule and remanded it to the Agency for further assessment.  We conclude that the Water Transfers Rule is based on a reasonable interpretation of the Clean Water Act and therefore entitled to Chevron deference.  Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is REVERSED.

“Going Green” not good for the planet?

“When corporations go green it isn’t as good for the planet as environmentalists like to claim, according to a new study by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).” click here

Burning trees to meet EU renewable energy targets produces more greenhouse gases than coal

“Chopping down trees and transporting wood across the Atlantic Ocean to feed power stations produces more greenhouse gases than much cheaper coal, according to the report. It blames the rush to meet EU renewable energy targets, which resulted in ministers making the false assumption that burning trees was carbon-neutral.” click here

Fluoride content of tea infusions, Portugal

Linhares DP, Garcia PV, Amaral L, Ferreira T, Dos Santos Rodrigues A. Safety Evaluation of Fluoride Content in Tea Infusions Consumed in the Azores-a Volcanic Region with Water Springs naturally Enriched in Fluoride. Biological trace element research. 2017 Jan 24. doi: 10.1007/s12011-017-0947-9.

Tea is the second most commonly consumed beverage in the world. It is well recognized that the consumption of tea in high quantities can promote the development of fluorosis. The main objective of this study is to estimate the exposure to fluoride in the Azores through drinking tea prepared with water from different volcanic locations, by i) investigating the fluoride (F) content of various commercial brands of tea (Camellia sinensis) marketed in Azores and ii) comparing tea releasing rates of F according to brewing time, considering the fluoride concentration in the different types of water used for the infusion. Fluoride contents were determined by ion-selective electrode in 30 samples of drinking water from three different locations and in 450 samples of tea (black and green tea) from three different brands. Fluoride concentration in water ranged from 0.29 to 1.56 ppm (Porto Formoso and Sete Cidades village, respectively). Fluoride concentrations increased with brewing time, reaching the highest values in the Azorean black and green tea infusions. For all the studied brands, a negative correlation was found between tea fluoride contents and the pH of the water used to prepare the infusion. Fluoride concentration in infusions was significantly associated with the background fluoride concentration in drinking water. Since the fluoride concentration in groundwater varies accordingly to the geological conditions and tea consumption can contribute to fluoride intake, it is important to define the limits for tea consumption, particularly in fluoride-rich areas.

Global lukewarming

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“When it comes to global warming, most people think there are two camps: “alarmist” or “denier” being their respective pejoratives. Either you acknowledge the existence of man-made climate change and consider it a dire global threat, or you deny it exists at all. But there is a third group: the “lukewarmers.” In Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger explain the real science and spin behind the headlines and come to a provocative conclusion: global warming is not hot—it’s lukewarm. Climate change is real, it is partially man-made, but it is clearer than ever that its impact has been exaggerated—with many of the headline-grabbing predictions now being rendered implausible or impossible.” click here

Climate models for the layman

From the Executive Summary (here):

There is considerable debate over the fidelity and utility of global climate models (GCMs). This debate occurs within the community of climate scientists, who disagree about the amount of weight to give to climate models relative to observational analyses. GCM outputs are also used by economists, regulatory agencies and policy makers, so GCMs have received considerable scrutiny from a broader community of scientists, engineers, software experts, and philosophers of science. This report attempts to describe the debate surrounding GCMs to an educated but nontechnical audience.

Key summary points

• GCMs have not been subject to the rigorous verification and validation that is the norm for engineering and regulatory science.

• There are valid concerns about a fundamental lack of predictability in the complex nonlinear climate system.

• There are numerous arguments supporting the conclusion that climate models are not fit for the purpose of identifying with high confidence the proportion of the 20th century warming that was human-caused as opposed to natural.

• There is growing evidence that climate models predict too much warming from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

• The climate model simulation results for the 21st century reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) do not include key elements of climate variability, and hence are not useful as projections for how the 21st century climate will actually evolve.

Climate models are useful tools for conducting scientific research to understand the climate system. However, the above points support the conclusion that current GCMs are not fit for the purpose of attributing the causes of 20th century warming or for predicting global or regional climate change on timescales of decades to centuries, with any high level of confidence. By extension, GCMs are not fit for the purpose of justifying political policies to fundamentally alter world social, economic and energy systems. It is this application of climate model results that fuels the vociferousness of the debate surrounding climate models.

Coffee consumption found to be safe

Chrysant SG The impact of coffee consumption on blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. Expert review of cardiovascular therapy. 2017 Feb 3:1-6. doi: 10.1080/14779072.2017.1287563.

Introduction: Coffee is the most widely consumed beverage, next to water. However, there has been a long-standing controversy regarding its safety on blood pressure (BP) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and intuitively, physicians dissuaded their patients from coffee drinking.

Areas covered: This controversy was, primarily, based on older prospective studies or case reports, which showed a positive association of coffee drinking with the incidence of hypertension and CVD. In contrast to these reports, recent, well controlled, studies have demonstrated either a neutral or beneficial effect of moderate coffee consumption (3-4 cups/day), on BP, CVD, heart failure (HF), cardiac arrhythmias, or diabetes mellitus (DM). For the preparation of this special report, an English language focused search of the Medline database was conducted between 2010 and 2016 on studies with data on effect on the coffee consumption in patients with high BP, CVD, HF, cardiac arrhythmias or DM. Of the 94 abstracts reviewed, 34 pertinent papers were selected, and the findings from these papers together with collateral literature will be discussed in this special report.

Expert commentary: Based on the evidence from these studies, coffee consumption in moderation, is safe and is beneficial in both healthy persons as well as patients with high BP, CVD, HF, cardiac arrhythmias or DM. Therefore, coffee restriction is not warranted for these patients, although some caution should be exercised.