Michael Greenstone, Richard McDowell, Ishan Nath. Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver? Working Paper. Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. April 21, 2019.
Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are the largest and perhaps most popular climate policy in the US, having been enacted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. Using the most comprehensive panel data set ever compiled on program characteristics and key outcomes, we compare states that did and did not adopt RPS policies, exploiting the substantial differences in timing of adoption. The estimates indicate that 7 years after passage of an RPS program, the required renewable share of generation is 1.8 percentage points higher and average retail electricity prices are 1.3 cents per kWh, or 11% higher; the comparable figures for 12 years after adoption are a 4.2 percentage point increase in renewables’ share and a price increase of 2.0 cents per kWh or 17%. These cost estimates significantly exceed the marginal operational costs of renewables and likely reflect costs that renewables impose on the generation system, including those associated with their intermittency, higher transmission costs, and any stranded asset costs assigned to ratepayers. The estimated reduction in carbon emissions is imprecise, but, together with the price results, indicates that the cost per metric ton of CO2 abated exceeds $130 in all specifications and ranges up to $460, making it least several times larger than conventional estimates of the social cost of carbon. These results do not rule out the possibility that RPS policies could dynamically reduce the cost of abatement in the future by causing improvements in renewable technology.
Bradley PM, et al. Reconnaissance of Mixed Organic and Inorganic Chemicals in Private and Public Supply Tapwaters at Selected Residential and Workplace Sites in the United States. Environmental science & technology. 2018 Nov 21. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b04622
Safe drinking water at the point-of-use (tapwater, TW) is a United States public health priority. Multiple lines of evidence were used to evaluate potential human health concerns of 482 organics and 19 inorganics in TW from 13 (7 public supply, 6 private well self-supply) home and 12 (public supply) workplace locations in 11 states. Only uranium (61.9 μg L-1, private well) exceeded a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation maximum contaminant level (MCL: 30 μg L-1). Lead was detected in 23 samples (MCL goal: zero). Seventy-five organics were detected at least once, with median detections of 5 and 17 compounds in self-supply and public supply samples, respectively (corresponding maxima: 12 and 29). Disinfection byproducts predominated in public supply samples, comprising 21% of all detected and 6 of the 10 most frequently detected. Chemicals designed to be bioactive (26 pesticides, 10 pharmaceuticals) comprised 48% of detected organics. Site-specific cumulative exposure-activity ratios (∑EAR) were calculated for the 36 detected organics with ToxCast data. Because these detections are fractional indicators of a largely uncharacterized contaminant space, ∑EAR in excess of 0.001 and 0.01 in 74 and 26% of public supply samples, respectively, provide an argument for prioritized assessment of cumulative effects to vulnerable populations from trace-level TW exposures.
“Scientific studies should be reproducible—especially if they are used to justify government regulations. But NAS’s report, The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science, released earlier this year, found that many supposedly scientific results cannot be reproduced in subsequent investigations.
We believe that individual scientists, the federal government, and state legislatures must take steps to promote reliable, reproducible science. And we believe that all Americans should be equipped with basic statistics and other tools to recognize faulty science when they see it.” click here
Mian HR, Hu G, Hewage K, Rodriguez MJ, Sadiq R. Prioritization of unregulated disinfection by-products in drinking water distribution systems for human health risk mitigation: A critical review. Water Res. 2018 Sep 29;147:112-131. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2018.09.054
Water disinfection involves the use of different types of disinfectants, which are oxidizing agents that react with natural organic matter (NOM) to form disinfection by-products (DBPs). The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has established threshold limits on some DBPs, which are known as regulated DBPs (R-DBPs). The human health risks associated with R-DBPs in drinking water distribution systems (DWDSs) and application of stricter regulations have led water utilities to switch from conventional disinfectant (i.e., chlorination) to alternative disinfectants. However, the use of alternative disinfectants causes formation of a new suit of DBPs known as unregulated DBPs (UR-DBPs), which in many cases can be more toxic. There is a growing concern of UR-DBPs formation in drinking water. This review prioritizes some commonly occurring UR-DBP groups and species in DWDSs based on their concentration level, reported frequency, and toxicity using an indexing method. There are nine UR-DBPs group and 36 species that have been identified based on recent published peer-reviewed articles. Haloacetonitriles (HANs) and haloacetaldehydes (HALs) are identified as important UR-DBP groups. Dichloroacetonitrile (DCAN) and trichloroacetaldehye (TCAL) are identified as critical UR-DBPs species. The outcomes of this review can help water regulators to identify the most critical UR-DBPs species in the context of drinking water safety and provide them with useful information to develop guidelines or threshold limits for UR-DBPs. The outcomes can also help water utilities in selecting water treatment processes for the mitigation of human health risk posed by UR-DBPs through drinking water.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a guidance to clear up uncertainties in obtaining air quality permits required to build or modify facilities, like power plants and refineries. click here
“Schomer testified he’s spent over 50 years working as an acoustician, dedicating the last decade to researching wind turbine noise. He currently serves as the Emeritus Chairman of the Acoustical Society of America.
Project opponent Ted Hartke asked Schomer whether the current noise standards would fully protect residents near the proposed wind farm.
“I don’t feel [the standards] are adequate for that purpose,” said Schomer.” click here
Allen JM, Cuthbertson AA, Liberatore HK, Kimura SY, Mantha A, Edwards MA, Richardson SD. Showering in Flint, MI: Is there a DBP problem? J Environ Sci (China). 2017 Aug;58:271-284. doi: 10.1016/j.jes.2017.06.009.
Lead contamination in the City of Flint, MI has been well documented over the past two years, with lead levels above the EPA Action Level until summer 2016. This resulted from an ill-fated decision to switch from Detroit water (Lake Huron) with corrosion control, to Flint River water without corrosion control. Although lead levels are now closer to normal, reports of skin rashes have sparked questions surrounding tap water in some Flint homes. This study investigated the presence of contaminants, including disinfection by-products (DBPs), in the hot tap water used for showering in the homes of residents in Flint. Extensive quantitative analysis of 61 regulated and priority unregulated DBPs was conducted in Flint hot and cold tap water, along with the analysis of 50 volatile organic compounds and a nontarget comprehensive, broadscreen analysis, to identify a possible source for the reported skin rashes. For comparison, chlorinated hot and cold waters from three other cities were also sampled, including Detroit, which also uses Lake Huron as its source water. Results showed that hot water samples generally contained elevated levels of regulated and priority unregulated DBPs compared to cold water samples, but trihalomethanes were still within regulatory limits. Overall, hot shower water from Flint was similar to waters sampled from the three other cities and did not have unusually high levels of DBPs or other organic chemicals that could be responsible for the skin rashes observed by residents. It is possible that an inorganic chemical or microbial contaminant may be responsible.