You are here

G1. Progressive Green

Companies fight to keep consumers in the dark about chemicals in cleaners

Environmental Working Group - Fri, 01/12/2024 - 09:30
Companies fight to keep consumers in the dark about chemicals in cleaners Iris Myers January 12, 2024

During the cold winter months you may spend more time inside than out. And you may do more cleaning, especially because it’s also the flu and Covid season. 

But before you reach for that spray cleaner, you should know that ingredients in many household cleaning products don’t just kill germs, they may also harm your health. 

And a new bill in Congress may mean that simply checking product labels and company websites soon won’t be enough to avoid toxic ingredients. 

Disinfectant sprays

Disinfectant sprays are appealing types of cleaners, because they can be used on a variety of surfaces and promise to kill germs, including bacteria and viruses. 

But many of these spray disinfectants – including name-brand products like Lysol – contain chemicals that can jeopardize your health. 

Ingredients of concern

MIPA-borate

MIPA-borate has been linked to hormone disruption. MIPA-borate can be found in many Lysol brand disinfectant sprays, including LYSOL Disinfectant Max Cover Mist, Brighter Horizon, LYSOL Disinfectant Max Cover Mist, Fresh Beginnings, LYSOL Disinfectant Max Cover Mist, White Sales & Ocean Breeze, LYSOL Disinfectant Spray Lightly Scented, Adirondack Cool Air Scent and LYSOL Disinfectant Spray Lightly Scented, Crystal Waters Scent.

Ethanolamine

Ethanolamine is a buffering agent added to cleaning products. It has been linked to a variety of health harms, including asthma, respiratory issues, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and skin allergies and irritation. Contact with this ingredient has been known to cause severe skin burns and eye damage. It can also be found in many Lysol disinfectant spray cleaners.

Ammonium hydroxide

Ammonium hydroxide is a caustic inorganic base, also used in many Lysol disinfectant products. It has been linked to asthma and respiratory issues, severe skin allergies and irritation, and has been shown to be very toxic to aquatic life.

Children’s health concerns

The harmful ingredients in products like Lysol disinfectant sprays are especially concerning for children. Asthma and many childhood cancers are on the rise, and the products we use daily in our homes may be a contributing factor. 

Even when using cleaning products as directed, they can release hundreds of chemicals into the air.

Pending legislation

In October 2023, a bill was introduced in Congress on behalf of leading household cleaning product manufacturers – including Reckitt, the manufacturer of Lysol – that would deny Americans the right to know what the toxic chemicals are in their cleaning products. 

The industry bill was introduced by Rep. Larry Buschon (R-Ind.). Dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act – or DARK Act –  by consumer advocates, if passed, the law would create an endless regulatory process that would produce a far weaker chemical disclosure system.

It would preempt a state law approved by California legislators in 2017 that requires the disclosure of toxic chemicals in popular household cleaning products like Lysol, Pledge and Windex. 

This state law has been in effect since 2020. EWG sponsored the legislation and backed efforts to make it law. 

EWG was joined in this effort by other environmental groups and leading household cleaning companies. We worked together to pass the state law, which requires the disclosure of certain toxic chemicals on the package of products, or through a website.

When the state law was passed, household cleaning product manufacturers, including S.C. Johnson, Clorox, Henkel, Procter & Gamble and Reckitt, agreed that they would not seek preemption of Californian’s new law and NGOs agreed not to seek a stronger law in other states. 

So far, only Clorox and Henkel have opposed the new bill and pledged to honor their agreement with organizations like EWG.

While MIPA-borate, ethanolamine and ammonium hydroxide are ingredients used in many other cleaners, not just Lysol, Reckitt is one of the only companies trying to keep consumers in the dark about the chemicals in their products.

And an EWG analysis of chemicals that must be disclosed, under California’s Cleaning Product Right to Know Act, found that Reckitt has more chemicals to disclose in their cleaning products than any other company.

Protecting yourself

Consumers looking to reduce exposure to products containing harmful ingredients like mipa-borate, ammonium hydroxide and ethanolamine can use resources like EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to find top-rated products. When you’re on the go, use the Healthy Living app.

Look for the EWG VERIFIED® mark on cleaners, which shows the product meets EWG’s strictest standards for transparency and health, and is made without chemicals of concern.  

Areas of Focus Household & Consumer Products Cleaning Supplies Disqus Comments Authors Iris Myers January 12, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

What Is a Green Roof Garden?

Dogwood Alliance - Wed, 01/10/2024 - 04:25

In recent years, green roof gardens have gained popularity. People recognize the many benefits that green roofs offer. But what exactly are green roofs? Let’s explore this sustainable and exciting form of urban gardening. Understanding Green Roof Systems A green roof is a type of garden that is installed on the roof of a building. […]

The post What Is a Green Roof Garden? first appeared on Dogwood Alliance.
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Soothe dry skin this winter with safer balms and salves

Environmental Working Group - Tue, 01/09/2024 - 12:33
Soothe dry skin this winter with safer balms and salves rcoleman January 9, 2024

One of the effects of colder temperatures is that everything dries out, including our skin. 

Balms and salves to the rescue. 

Why lower temps dry out the skin

Colder weather produces a drying effect because cool air holds less humidity than warm air. Lower humidity means moisture is drawn from the skin into the air. (Consider how much easier it is to towel off after a shower in a dry climate than in a humid one.)

Dermatologists’ recommendations for hydration, like drinking plenty of water and avoiding super-hot water in the shower, are a good place to start. 

For very dry skin, balms and salves are also helpful: They have a higher oil-to-water ratio than standard moisturizers do and are designed to sit on top of the skin. 

Balms seal in hydration. A salve is thinner, also used to moisturize, as well as sometimes to treat an infection or wound, such as the cracked skin that can develop with very dry skin. 

EWG's Quick Tips for Choosing Safer Personal Care Products Balms and salves without toxic chemicals

But not all balms and salves are created equal. Many rely on toxic chemicals for their effectiveness. 

Below is our roundup of those that either score well in Skin Deep®, our searchable database of personal care products, or bear the EWG VERIFIED® mark, which means they’re made according to our strictest standards for transparency and health. 

1 product, many uses

One of the best products, especially for anyone who wants a pared-down skincare routine or who travels often, is one that’s multipurpose.

Ouli’s Ointment All-Purpose Balm is a true multitasker – good for lips, skin, hair, cuticles, nails and “beauty finishing.” Plus, it’s EWG VERIFIED and comes in a charmingly old-fashioned yellow tin. 

Bee Balm Cream from Morning Song Gardens – quite possibly the most poetic brand name ever? – works on the face, hands and body. And it’s fragrance free. 

A two-in-one product is La Roche Posay Lipikar Balm Ap+ Intense Repair Moisturizing Body and Face Cream

To help fight dry skin, Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve Company St. John’s wort Herbal Salve contains calendula, chickweed and plantain, in addition to St. John’s Wort. 

The EWG VERIFIED Magic Beauty Balm Stick, from Honest, the company founded by Jessica Alba, hits three cold-weather hot spots – lips, cheeks and cuticles.

And let’s not forget your feet – if you’re like most people, they almost always need help. Truly 02’s Micro-Oxygen Hand and Foot Salve will work on all 20 digits.

Finally, consider slathering on Beautycounter’s Melting Body Balm, another multipurpose product.

Targeted for specific uses

Sometimes only a product formulated for a particular body part will do. Here are some:

Face

The face is more delicate and sensitive than other parts of the body, so it’s logical to use a product especially made for it. The Face Cuddle Moisture Balm from Em Cosmetics comes in a handy, efficient push-up tube, like a large lip balm. 

Made with mango butter, argan, aloe and tamanu, a soothing fatty nut oil, Aika Wellness Pitta Face Balm is particularly good for sensitive skin. Organic Bath Co. Nourish Night Product is formulated especially to do its thing as you sleep. 

Lip balm

Some of us stash lip balm – sometimes more than one – absolutely everywhere. Which is great if your lips, like ours, can get dry and chapped in colder weather. If that’s you, try the EWG VERIFIED Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm, which comes in seven deliciously named colors, like white nectarine and dragon fruit. 

Eye balm

The skin around the eyes is thin and sensitive, with its own particular moisturizing needs – hence the Era Organics Eye Balm, made with pumpkin seed oil, raw honey and papaya, among other ingredients.

Hands

This hand salve from All Things Jill contains rosemary, sweet almond oil and shea butter, as well as other nourishing ingredients. It’s also unscented and may be less likely to irritate dry skin.

Very dry skin can get chapped, requiring more than the usual winter-weather attention. Rosemary Garden’s Organic Calendula Healing Salve contains olive oil infused with calendula, a plant known for its healing properties. Butter Me Up Organics Calendula Balm is made with just three ingredients: organic calendula flowers, olive oil and shea butter.

Hair

Like the rest of the body, hair often gets especially dry in the cooler months. Chagrin Valley Coconut Primrose Hair Balm contains the perfect nourishing antidotes to fly-away tresses. 

Feet

Feet also take a beating in colder weather. If not attended to, very dry skin can get rough and crack. This foot salve by Butter Me Up Organics – whose tagline is “Don’t put anything on your body you wouldn’t put in it – can help solve the problem. Just apply to clean feet and cover them with cotton socks, wait a little while (or overnight) and voilà – softer, smoother feet.

Areas of Focus Personal Care Products Cosmetics Family Health Toxic Chemicals Disqus Comments Authors Ketura Persellin January 10, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Olivia Wagner

Environmental Working Group - Tue, 01/09/2024 - 07:55
Olivia Wagner rcoleman January 9, 2024 Olivia Wagner She/Her/Hers Social Media Manager, EWG VERIFIED®

At EWG, Olivia combines her expertise in social media marketing and passion for holistic health. A native of San Diego, she holds a B.S. in business administration with a minor in nutrition and health promotion from the University of Southern California. Before joining EWG, Olivia managed social media and email marketing for Virgin Pulse, a global health, well-being and navigation platform. She is a certified integrative nutrition health coach and loves helping others live a healthier lifestyle. Olivia lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys beach days, yoga, hiking, cooking and keeping up on the latest wellness trends.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Stay Grounded in review: 2023 – A year of sustained momentum

Stay Grounded - Tue, 01/09/2024 - 05:51

2023 was a busy year, with lots of growth and momentum in the movement and within the Stay Grounded network. We saw our network grow – reaching 215 members! – and numerous inventive and impactful actions against private jets, aviation growth, and destructive tourism. While it’s impossible to cover everything, here’s our attempt to give an overview of the activities and achievements of our 215 member initiatives, our individual members, our working groups, our volunteers, our Turtles coordination group, and our team of campaigners.

The call to ban private jets grew loud

Our campaign against private jets and luxury emissions gained momentum and demands for policymakers to implement effective solutions – such as a ban on private jets, a ban on frequent flying programmes, and a tax on frequent flying – were echoed by the movement through powerful actions throughout the year. 

In May, a hundred activists supporting Stay Grounded, Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion, and Scientist Rebellion, and other climate justice groups, disrupted Europe’s biggest sales fair of private jets (EBACE) in Geneva. It was a key moment in the movement to hold the rich accountable for their outrageous emissions and brought hope and motivation. “We’ve come to tell the super-rich that the party is over. To expose the toxicity of the private jet industry, which is fuelling further the climate catastrophe and injustice!”, explained Charlène Fleury, who came to join the action from France.

As part of the campaign we produced a number of resources to help people understand and explain why private jets are the pinnacle of climate injustice. We created key messages to frame and communicate the issue, a Q&A cheatsheet, and infographics. In August, we released our factsheet on private jets (available in English, French, Spanish and German), which debunks claims made by the private jet industry and explains the solutions we need. 

In October, 90 organisations – including Stay Grounded – issued an open letter calling on national and European policymakers to ban private jets and tax frequent flying. Our demand for an end to luxury emissions was bolstered by people across Europe, just days before, taking to the streets in the Their Time To Pay marches which called for an end to the current unjust system and the resulting cost of living and climate crises. 

Action snowballed

The energy for action continued throughout 2023. In April, we joined The Big One – a mass protest organised by Extinction Rebellion in the UK – our member BAAN co-organised the March Against Airport Expansion with over 5,000 people joining. Groups in France staged a week of actions in May to demand a cap on flights and a curfew. 

The year culminated with several key moments in the movement to ground aviation. In Mexico, several actions took place against the new Tulum International Airport. Activists condemned the marketing of this as a ‘green airport’ despite its devastating environmental impact and the fact that it jeopardises Mayan peoples’ interests. 

At the same time, supporters of Code Rouge from across Europe took action at Liège Airport in a peaceful direct action to demand a drastic reduction of flights. Shortly before, hundreds of activists were arrested around Antwerp, while preparing to block Antwerp International airport, one of the biggest private jet airports in Belgium. Despite police targeting activists, a large group managed to enter Antwerp Airport and achieved success: no private jets took off from Kortrijk or Antwerp on that day.

Fighting industry greenwashing

2023 saw the aviation industry dig its heels even further into new greenwashing strategies in order to continue its climate-wrecking growth. As always, we didn’t let them! The Stay Grounded greenwashing working group produced a detailed, comprehensively researched, and accessible fact-sheet on Carbon Offsetting. This explained why the very concept of using resources that are essential for the global majority to continue the polluting habits of a wealthy minority is fundamentally unjust. Meanwhile, research commissioned by Stay Grounded showed the reality of forest carbon offsets: exaggerated emission savings and legal challenges.  

We saw the industry shift its focus towards so-called Sustainable Aviation Fuel in 2023, presenting it as a magic bullet to continue to pollute. We turned their attempts to greenwash the public with so-called SAF into an opportunity to raise public awareness of this false solution. During Virgin Atlantic’s 100% so-called “SAF” flight we contributed to over 300 articles while also doing TV and radio interviews to call them out for what it was: a greenwashing marketing gimmick. 

Our network and educational work grew

In 2023, we welcomed 15 new member initiatives. Our multipliers network also grew to nearly 200 multipliers ready to give talks and workshops about aviation and climate injustice. Across autumn we ran 30 trainings for multipliers in French, English, Spanish, and German and saw enthusiastic new campaigners joining our global network to spread the word. 

We hosted two webinars looking at the destruction wrought by extractivist tourism and an industry co-dependent on aviation. The first reimagined tourism in a future with less air traffic and the second examined the urge to travel to far away places while ignoring the beauty and mystery that surrounds us. Last year our airport conflict working group collaborated again with the Environmental Justice team to continually update the map of airport conflicts and injustices in the Environmental Justice Atlas (English/Spanish). In August, the Mexican members CPOEEM and Otros Mundos represented Stay Grounded at the Mesoamerican Gathering for Social Moments – a valuable opportunity to exchange with other movements in the region and place the topic of aviation in the agenda of such a meeting. In September, we also co-organised a webinar with our member CECIC on the dynamics of airport expansion and tourism development in the African continent while focusing on the resistance against the expansion of the Kasese airstrip in Uganda.

In February, we joined with Safe Landing and Transport & Environment to organise an online workshop inviting aviation workers to discuss their future and job security. The aim was to bring together workers across companies and trade unions from different countries to share experiences, network and strategise. In September, we joined with Umanotera, to host a webinar on aviation subsidies in Europe. This session explored the complex web of direct and indirect subsidies which privilege the aviation industry in the EU and explained that any campaign to abolish aviation subsidies would need to include aviation workers and focus on the positive impact of taxing aviation. 

The Stay Grounded campaigners team also saw new members join with Sara joining as an action coordinator, Lounes joining within the Network Coordination and Education teams, and Sean and Hannah joining the comms team. At the regional coordination level, Angel Sulub joined the team as regional coordinator for the network in Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC), an important milestone in the consolidation of the LAC network and SG work in the region. During winter, the campaigners team and the Turtles coordinating committee took part in a two session anti-oppression training to reflect on ways to further decolonise our network structures and protocols. 

Looking to 2024

In 2024 we want to build on the skills, momentum, and achievements that were plentiful in 2023. We’ll be looking at measures to reduce frequent flying, countering industry greenwashing on so-called “SAF”, and continuing to support local airport resistances. 

If you’re interested in getting more involved with Stay Grounded in 2024 by becoming a member, join us!  

In spring, we’re joining Badvertising for an international week of action to expose the industry’s scandalous greenwashing. To get involved in organising a creative action sign up

Thank you for your support! We look forward to organising alongside you, learning with you, and supporting each other in 2024 and beyond. 

Der Beitrag Stay Grounded in review: 2023 – A year of sustained momentum erschien zuerst auf Stay Grounded.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

US struggles to free itself from Russian enriched uranium supplies

Bellona.org - Mon, 01/08/2024 - 11:04

As the past year drew to a close, the US House of Representatives passed legislation that would ban the purchase of enriched Russian uranium for use in American nuclear reactors — a measure meant to hobble Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, which is actively participating in Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act, which was approved by voice vote, would bar Russian uranium imports 90 days after enactment while allowing a temporary waiver until January 2028. The bill needs to be passed by the Senate and then signed by President Joe Biden to become law, though the timeline for this remains unclear.

The US has imposed deep sanctions on Russian-produced oil and gas over the war, but Russian-enriched uranium used to fuel America’s 92 commercial nuclear reactors has thus far escaped legislative action.

That a US uranium ban has not been pursued earlier puts in Washington in shaky moral territory, especially as Rosatom helped orchestrate the takeover of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — both Ukraine and Europe’s largest such facility — a state of affairs that has made the station hostage to an active war zone.

Experts from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency have repeatedly raised alarm over the plant’s vulnerability, and agency monitors stationed onsite report constant military fighting nearby. IAEA director General Rafael Grossi has pleaded for both sides to establish a demilitarized zone around the station, without result. Meahwhile, what agency monitors at the plant can view and report on is subject to the whims of the Russian military occupiers.

Yet, like many of its European counterparts that support Ukraine’s resistance, the United States remains heavily dependent on enriched uranium from Russia. Last year — as in decades before — Russia was the United States’ number one supplier of enriched uranium supplies, sending almost a quarter of the nuclear fuel used in the America’s commercial reactor fleet, Department of Energy date show.

Most of the rest is imported from Europe. A final third or so is produced by a British-Dutch-German consortium operating in the United States called Urenco. Nearly a dozen countries around the world depend on Russia for more than half their enriched uranium — many of them likewise Ukraine-allied members of Nato.

Russia is also the only commercially available source of special highly enriched reactor fuel known as Haleu, which is needed for a new breed of advanced nuclear reactors that are under development, numerous nuclear analysts have noted.

The US reliance on Russian-enriched fuel also leaves the country’s current and future nuclear plants vulnerable to a Russian shutdown of enriched uranium sales, which analysts say is a conceivable strategy for President Vladimir Putin, who often wields energy as a geopolitical tool.

”We cannot be held hostage by nations that don’t have our values, but that’s what has happened,” Senator Joe Manchin III, the West Virginia Democrat who leads the Senate’s energy committee, told The New York Times. Manchin is sponsoring a bill that would help rebuilt US enrichment capacity with the help of federal subsidies.

“The United States must ban the sale of Russian uranium in America,” Wyominc Senator John Barrasso, the author of the Senate’s version of the uranium ban, said in a statement following the House vote last month, according to Bloomberg. “Vladimir Putin has used Russia’s nuclear industry to fund his brutal invasion of Ukraine.”

The US spends an estimated $1 billion per year on nuclear fuel from Russia, Barrasso told Bloomberg. While this would pale in comparison to losses Moscow faces in oil and gas sanctions, it nonetheless represents an important source of foreign revenue for Rosatom, whose foreign receipts last year totaled around $8 billion.

So, what has prevented Washington, Ukraine’s primary financial supporter in the West and the de facto head of Nato, from taking steps to phase out its use of Russian-produced uranium?

For one, it is maddeningly difficult to refuse that Russian supply. Throughout the 1990s, the Unites States turned away from its own enrichment capabilities in favor of using down-blended stocks of Soviet-era weapons grade uranium.

That program — dubbed Megatons to Megawatts — was part of a raft of nonproliferation efforts undertaken cooperatively in the 1990s by Moscow and Washington to sequester and dilute post-Soviet stocks of nuclear weapons and materials. Many of these weapons were located in former Soviet republics that, when the union dissolved in 1991, overnight became their own states. Such was the case with Ukraine, which in 1993, relinquished Soviet-era nuclear weapons held on its territory to Moscow.

Megatons to Megawatts provided the US with cheap fuel and Moscow with needed cash during the recurring economic crises of the 90s, and was seen as critical effort to winnow down weapons grade materials. So prevalent were the down blended HEU stocks that every single US nuclear power plant at some point fueled their reactors with them.

But it also destroyed the profitability of America’s inefficient enrichment facilities, which were eventually shuttered.  Then, instead of investing in upgraded centrifuges in the United States when the Megatons to Megawatts program concluded in 2013, successive presidential administrations kept buying enriched uranium from Russia. So prevalent are the Russia uranium stocks that one of every 20 US homes is powered by fuel that Rosatom has enriched.

This now leaves the US on the backfoot should it strive to extricate itself from Russian supply chains. As it stands now, there only one wholly US-owned company that enriches uranium.

As part of the new uranium-ban bill, the Biden administration would earmark $2.2 billion toward the expansion of uranium enrichment facilities in the US. But, under the proposed 2028 implementation of the ban, that only leaves another five years for US nuclear power plants to find alternative suppliers.

That’s a tight deadline. The single facility enriching uranium and providing Haleu is the American Centrifuge Company, owned by Centrus Energy, in Ohio. The plant has been on a 22-year hiatus, but in October, it began enriching again, largely as a response to possible shortages from Russia. But it will be difficult for the company to fully replace that supply in the near term.

As such, the US would likely have to pursue other foreign enriched uranium suppliers, most likely France. But France likewise has deep ties to the Rosatom from which it, like the US, has yet to disentangle.

Meanwhile, the most promising alternative for the US is likely a Urenco plant in New Mexico, which last summer announced plans to expand it production by 2025 to answer demand for non-Russian fuel.

All told, a cold-turkey break with Russian nuclear fuel supplies would be nearly impossible for the US and its allies in the Ukrainian struggle to undertake. But Washington and its European counterparts nonetheless must develop an exit strategy, both for the near term, as the war continues to rage, and for the more distant future as well, when relations with Russia are impossible to predict.

We at Bellona will continue to report on and analyze these strategies, and will over the next several months continue to publish our insights on how a nuclear market free of Rosatom could function.

 

 

 

The post US struggles to free itself from Russian enriched uranium supplies appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Settlement parties urge feds to protect climate, wildlife with amendment of Trump-era oil, gas plan for SW Colorado

Western Environmental Law Center - Mon, 01/08/2024 - 08:57

Two years in the making, the Bureau of Land Management (the Bureau) on Friday began its public scoping period for an amendment to a Trump-era resource management plan (RMP) for a 1.64-million-acre Uncompahgre Field Office “planning area” in southwest Colorado as required by three 2022 legal agreements (ours here). In the process for amending the 20-year plan, the Bureau will consider whether and where to allow oil and gas development, how to minimize harm from drilling to Gunnison sage grouse and big game, and management of lands with wilderness characteristics. The scoping period runs through February 20.

“The North Fork Valley has fought for over a decade to prevent leasing of public lands to oil and gas development around our homes, farms and in our watersheds,” said Natasha Léger, executive director of Citizens for a Healthy Community. “We have seen some of the most extreme warming in the country, and our rare and irreplaceable ecosystem is under increasing climate and ecological stress. The Bureau of Land Management must do everything in its power to mitigate these stresses.”

While the former planning area of 2.2 million acres included federal minerals below U.S. Forest Service lands, the planning area for the amendment is significantly smaller and appears to exclude those federal minerals. This exclusion appears to be an effort to omit mineral estate underlying U.S. Forest Service lands, which comprise most of the high-development potential lands for oil and gas within the Resource Management Plan’s planning area. See a map comparing the larger planning area (inside green border) to the decision area (yellow) here. While the Bureau’s Colorado Field Office has taken the position that it lacks authority to close minerals underlying Forest Service lands to drilling, that interpretation is inconsistent with clearly established law.

“The Bureau of Land Management has both authority and a legal responsibility to make a decision for all Bureau mineral estate within the exterior boundaries of the planning area in order to comply with its obligations under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to prevent unnecessary or undue degradation of public lands, taking into consideration the climate crisis,” said Melissa Hornbein, senior attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center. “It should do so by meaningfully analyzing an alternative that closes federal mineral estate under both Bureau-managed surface, as well as U.S. Forest Service surface.”

Our 2022 legal agreement closed the planning area to new oil and gas leasing during the RMP amendment process. Additionally, the agency agreed to consider an alternative or alternatives that reduce future oil and gas leasing relative to even the most restrictive alternatives previously considered by the agency. Members of groups that previously litigated the Trump-era plan will continue to push the Bureau to consider a “no-new-leasing” and phase-down of fossil fuels alternative, and to hold the agency accountable to its undoubted authority to close the Bureau’s mineral estate underlying U.S. Forest Service lands as well as under the Bureau’s surface estate.

“This is a great opportunity for the Bureau of Land Management to listen to local communities and rectify misguided past decisions made by the last administration that prioritized oil and gas over all other uses,” said Peter Hart, legal director at Wilderness Workshop. “We’ll be pushing the agency to protect sensitive lands in the Uncompahgre Field Office planning area while scaling down fossil fuel development on these public lands.”

“It’s past time for the Bureau of Land Management to tackle the climate emergency by ending all new leasing and phasing out oil and gas extraction in the southern Rockies,” said Alli Henderson, southern Rockies director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Imperiled Colorado wildlife, from greenback cutthroat to Gunnison sage grouse, need our public land stewards to protect these wild places and not worsen climate change. This fragile ecosystem’s survival depends on the Bureau getting this right and phasing out fossil fuel extraction once and for all.”

“The Bureau of Land Management must seriously consider closing these lands to new leasing to protect sensitive resources and local communities, rather than protecting oil and gas industry profits,” said Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, legal director at WildEarth Guardians. “We will continue pushing the agency to do the right thing for public lands and the climate.”

“The Bureau of Land Management must stay committed to a paradigm shift where public lands are valued for their cultural, recreational and environmental resources, not their climate-wrecking fuels,” said Kim Pope, senior field organizer at Sierra Club. “It can make Colorado a prime example for other western states on how these needed changes will work.”

Temperatures in the region have risen more than 2 degrees Celsius (nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit), drying Colorado River flows that support endangered fish, agriculture and 40 million downstream water users.

The region spans the northwestern San Juan Mountains, several rivers, the towns of Ouray, Telluride, Montrose and Paonia, and the North Fork Valley, whose organic food growers and communities have opposed oil and gas development. It also includes numerous threatened and endangered species, including the razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow and Gunnison sage grouse.

“Lands managed under the Uncompahgre plan are essential conservation priorities if the vanishing Gunnison sage grouse is to have any hope of long-term survival,” said Delaney Rudy, Colorado director of the Western Watersheds Project. “Now more than ever, the Bureau of Land Management needs to prioritize the preservation of intact, functional Gunnison sage grouse habitat above private commercial uses of our public lands.”

“Gunnison sage grouse depend on healthy public lands, and expanding fossil fuel development would be deleterious to the health of their public lands habitat,”  said Sue Navy with Gunnison County-based High Country Conservation Advocates. “We hope the Bureau of Land Management will listen to the communities affected by this agreement and protect the wildlife and waters that are sustained by this landscape.”

Several analyses show climate pollution from the world’s already producing fossil fuel developments, if fully developed, will push warming past 1.5 degrees Celsius. Avoiding such warming requires ending new investment in fossil fuel projects and phasing out production to keep as much as 40% of already-developed fields in the ground.

Thousands of organizations and communities from across the U.S. have called on President Biden to halt federal fossil fuel expansion, phase out production consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and develop new rules under long-ignored legal authorities to serve those goals. This revision presents an opportunity for the Biden administration to support corrective action to help undo damage done by the Trump administration.

Contacts:

Melissa Hornbein, Western Environmental Law Center, 406-708-3058, hornbein@westernlaw.org

Natasha Léger, Citizens for a Healthy Community, 970-399-9700, natasha@chc4you.org

Peter Hart, Wilderness Workshop, 303-475-4915, peter@wildernessworkshop.org

Alli Henderson, Center for Biological Diversity, 970-309-2008, ahenderson@biologicaldiversity.org

Delaney Rudy, Western Watersheds Project, 970-648-4241, delaney@westernwatersheds.org

Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, WildEarth Guardians, 505-401-4180, sruscavagebarz@wildearthguardians.org

Sue Navy, High Country Conservation Advocates, 970-349-5886, suenavy@gmail.org

Noah Rott, Sierra Club, 406-214-1990, noah.rott@sierraclub.org

The post Settlement parties urge feds to protect climate, wildlife with amendment of Trump-era oil, gas plan for SW Colorado appeared first on Western Environmental Law Center.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

75% of California rooftop solar companies at ‘high risk’ of bankruptcy

Environmental Working Group - Fri, 01/05/2024 - 07:52
75% of California rooftop solar companies at ‘high risk’ of bankruptcy rcoleman January 5, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO – A vast majority of California’s rooftop solar companies could go bankrupt in the coming weeks and months as a result of misguided state policy changes that have imperiled the industry, according to a new report in pv magazine.

The warning – from a leading executive at an insurance company that backs many state solar installers – is a catastrophic turnaround from the recent status of California’s residential solar program as one of the most successful of any state. 

Ara Agopian, chief executive officer at Solar Ensure, told the magazine that its data show roughly two-thirds of solar companies in the state are at “high risk” of bankruptcy. “We have seen a wave of recent solar installer bankruptcies and believe another wave will come in Q1 2024,” he said.

More than 17,000 solar installation jobs vanished during the last half of 2023, following disastrous changes to the state’s popular rooftop solar program. The California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, approved changes sought by the state’s investor-owned power companies that broadly put solar out of reach for many households.

The changes are taking a heavy toll on the entire solar sector. On Friday, Fremont-based solar equipment company Enphase Energy announced it will lay off 350 workers.

Many more job losses are expected in 2024 in the solar sector as the changes continue to wreak havoc, says an analysis by the California Solar & Storage Association, or CALSSA.

The devastating hit to the state’s once-booming residential solar industry is not linked to any economic downturn but can be entirely attributed to decisions last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s handpicked membership of the CPUC.

The five-member utilities commission voted unanimously to gut the state’s financial incentives for rooftop solar installations, which allowed more than 1.3 million families and small businesses to afford to install solar panels. The commission sided with utilities, despite long-running warnings from the Environmental Working Group and others about the many negative consequences of approving the changes.

“It’s unrecognizable what California has done to its pride and joy. The rooftop solar industry is the iconic renewable energy success story and it’s just amazing, just gob smacking, what the state has done,” said CALSSA Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro, discussing the CPUC’s decision during a recent webinar.

The state’s three investor-owned utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric – sought the changes. They despise the successful solar initiative, because it allowed their captive ratepayers to escape the utilities’ grip and generate their own electricity at considerably lower costs.

Scores of individuals from across the state and more than 600 clean energy, environmental justice, affordable housing advocates, cities, schools and solar industry representatives repeatedly warned the CPUC and Newsom that the state’s thriving solar industry would crater if regulators backed the utilities’ scheme.

Dave Rosenfeld, executive director of the nonprofit Solar Rights Alliance, who joined Del Chiaro during the recent webinar, said:

Nearly a quarter of a million people directly told the CPUC, don’t do this. Keep rooftop solar growing. There were more than 600 nonprofits, entire cities, school districts, farmers, businesses who were all saying, don’t do this. Keep rooftop solar growing.

But the CPUC, and by extension Gov. Newsom, completely disregarded what the public was saying. We told them. They didn’t listen and now the consequences are starting to come down the pike.

“The CPUC, as always, did exactly what PG&E told them to,” said EWG President and Bay Area resident Ken Cook, who moderated the webinar. “Extinguish the only source of competition for the big utilities and by doing that, cause thousands of jobs to be lost, businesses gone and the opportunity for energy independence to be lost along with it.”

###

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Areas of Focus Energy Renewable Energy Regional Issues California Critics warned CPUC, Newsom of industry collapse with disastrous policy change Disqus Comments Press Contact Alex Formuzis alex@ewg.org (202) 667-6982 January 5, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

GFC is hiring for the role of Director

Global Forest Coalition - Fri, 01/05/2024 - 03:22

The Global Forest Coalition (GFC) is seeking an experienced Director to provide strategic direction for the organization and oversee the coordination and implementation of our mission and policies across GFC’s four main campaigns: Gender Justice and Forests; Climate Justice; Extractive Industries, Tourism and Infrastructure; and Unsustainable Livestock Production.

About GFC

The GFC is an international coalition of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations defending social justice and the rights of forest peoples in forest policies. GFC was founded in 2000 by 19 member organizations and has grown to include 126 groups in 73 countries. We participate in international forest policy meetings and organize joint advocacy campaigns on issues like Indigenous Peoples’ rights, the need for socially-just forest policy and addressing the underlying causes of forest loss.

Our mission is to advocate for the conservation and restoration of forest ecosystems through defending and promoting respect for the rights, territories, traditional knowledge and sustainable livelihoods of the Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women that co-exist with them.

About the Role

Title: Director

Job Type: 24 hours a week

Starting date: March 2024

Location: This position is remote. GFC is a global organization. Occasional travel is required for relevant international events.

Remuneration: The employment will be on the basis of a special service agreement at a rate of 32.50 € per hour.

Responsibilities
  • Providing leadership, along with other staff and partner organizations, in the development and implementation of policy priorities and strategy.
  • Supporting campaign coordinators where needed, including in strategic planning, fundraising, budget administration, and reporting matters. 
  • Following up on the main global debates related to the defence of territories, the threats of climate change, the impacts of extractive industries on vulnerable populations, especially women, and other issues related to environmental disputes on the planet. 
  • Reviewing narrative and financial reports to donors and ensuring that they are consistent with the project proposals submitted to donors.
  • Supporting the Controller of Finance and Operations in ensuring coherence between campaign needs, budget and team care.
  • Overseeing the hiring and onboarding of new campaign coordinators when needed, in collaboration with the Controller of Finance and Operations and existing campaign staff.
  • Planning monthly Advisory Council (staff) meetings. 
  • Coordinating the annual Monitoring, Evaluation and Planning meeting for staff. 
  • Serving as a resource for member groups and encouraging their participation, in coordination with regional focal points and the Membership Coordinator, including at Members’ Assemblies.
  • Receiving and integrating requests by member organisations.
  • Supporting the GFC Board of Directors in planning, organizing and reporting on their meetings. 
  • Coordinating larger cross-cutting fundraising proposals, in close collaboration with relevant campaign coordinators and member organizations. 
  • Following discussions in the Advisory Council and communications team.
  • Representing GFC in the media and at international meetings and conferences, including in civil society spaces at conferences as determined by the campaign coordinators.
  • Ensuring effective communication within the team and making decisions based on consensus.
  • Supporting the communications team, the campaign coordinators, or GFC members in writing and publishing policy briefings, op-ed articles or other relevant publications.
Qualifications
  • Profound affinity with and knowledge of the mission, vision, objectives, strategies and campaigns of GFC, and commitment to feminist values. 
  • Knowing of the main networks of IPLCs and environmental CSOs.
  • At least 10 years’ experience coordinating international campaigns focused on advocating for rights-based, gender-just policies to address the drivers of deforestation, ecosystems and biodiversity loss, including climate justice issues.
  • Proven experience with fundraising and donor relations.
  • Proven affinity with working for a multicultural coalition of NGOs, grassroots organizations, women’s rights groups and Indigenous Peoples Organizations.
  • Good working knowledge of the drivers of deforestation, biodiversity conservation, gender transformative and intersectionality approach, Indigenous Peoples’ and local community rights, food sovereignty and climate justice and feminist perspectives.
  • Profound knowledge of global and regional policies related to forests; unsustainable livestock production and food systems; social and environmental justice; climate justice, extractive activities and agro-commodities.
  • Self-starter able to grasp complex forest-related policy frameworks, rights-based approaches and environmental policy issues.
  • Strong understanding of campaign strategies, management and Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (PMEL).
  • Professional, creative, with great interpersonal and problem-solving skills.
  • Self-motivated and organized, with strong communication skills and the ability to plan, organize and prioritize multiple projects and respect tight deadlines.
  • Fluency in English; Spanish, Russian, French or another major language is an advantage.
To Apply

Please send your CV and a cover letter outlining your suitability for the role with the subject heading: “Application: Policy Director Position” to gfc@globalforestcoalition.org. We particularly encourage GFC affiliates (current and former staff, contractors, representatives of member groups, etc.) to apply. GFC is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to providing all people with equal access to employment and volunteer opportunities. We strive for gender and regional diversity in our team and an increased number of Indigenous team members. 

Closing date for applications: January 28, 2024

The post GFC is hiring for the role of Director appeared first on Global Forest Coalition.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

E. coli from factory farms threatens America's leafy greens

Environmental Working Group - Thu, 01/04/2024 - 06:36
E. coli from factory farms threatens America's leafy greens rcoleman January 4, 2024

A single enormous cattle feeding operation potentially threatens the safety of thousands of acres of leafy greens grown in the U.S. during the colder months, an EWG analysis shows.

Irrigation water or dust contaminated with fecal matter from this giant feedlot, located in Yuma County, Ariz., could contaminate many acres of lettuce fields within 3 miles of the cattle farm, which produces 115,000 cows each year. This one feedlot is likely to be the source of contamination because of its size and proximity to the lettuce fields, compared to the other two animal feeding operations in Yuma County identified by the Food and Drug Administration in its investigations. 

In a canal near this feedlot, the FDA also found the exact strain of the bacteria E. coli that sickened people from lettuce during a recent outbreak.

Farms in Yuma County that grow leafy vegetables produce 90 percent of the nation’s winter lettuce, between November and March. Among these farm fields is the 350-acre McElhaney Feedyard. (See image below; the cattle feedlot is outlined in red.) It is owned by the Five Rivers Cattle Feeding company, which owns cattle feedlots throughout the western U.S.

Image

Source: EWG, from Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Imagery Program, 2021 imagery 

Animal waste produced in a feedlot can contaminate nearby crop fields, like lettuce, with E. coli, a type of bacteria that can be found in the fecal matter of animals and humans. Most E. coli strains are harmless, but a few can make people extremely sick or lead to death. 

Irrigation water in canals near animal feeding operations can become contaminated with E. coli and then sprayed on lettuce, or contaminated dust from feedlots can drift onto the lettuce fields. While cooking food can kill pathogens, lettuce is typically consumed raw, which makes E. coli contamination of leafy greens particularly dangerous. 

Feedlot linked to previous outbreak 

In 2018, five people died after eating romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma Valley. The FDA says the bacteria, which contaminated 36 lettuce fields on 23 farms in Yuma County, potentially came from the McElhaney Feedyard. 

There were only three animal feeding operations in Yuma County when the FDA conducted its investigation into the 2018 outbreak. McElhaney Feedyard is the feedlot located closest to many acres of lettuce grown in this area. And the exact strain of E. coli on the lettuce that sickened and killed people was found by the FDA in an irrigation canal near this feedlot. 

In late 2021, another outbreak of E. coli was linked to contaminated leafy greens, including kale and spinach. It sickened 10 people and killed one. That strain was the same as the one that caused the 2018 outbreak and was traced back to Yuma County, although the FDA did not seem to tie this one as closely to McElhaney Feedyard as it did the 2018 outbreak. 

How E. coli spreads to leafy greens fields

There are two theories about how E. coli gets to lettuce and other leafy greens fields from animal feeding operations. 

Bacteria from cattle manure may contaminate irrigation canals that travel past the feedlot, either through manure washing into the canals or from dust particles blowing from the feedlot into the canals through the air. Without knowing whether the water is contaminated, lettuce farmers use the water in the canals to irrigate their crops or mix it with pesticides before spraying it on the crops.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe this is the most likely pathway of contamination for the 2018 and 2021 E. coli outbreaks. 

Another theory is that E. coli–contaminated dust from feedlots drifts onto fields and settles on the leafy vegetables. While the federal health agencies prefer the irrigation canal theory, the possibility that contaminated cattle feedlot dust settles on farm fields is especially alarming, because particulate matter like dust can travel thousands of miles in the air. 

In the new analysis, EWG finds that thousands of acres of leafy vegetables, including lettuce, are located within a short distance from the McElhaney Feedyard. An irrigation canal used by nearby farmers runs through the cattle feedlot, posing a risk of bacterial contamination of the leafy greens. EWG focused on this feedlot because the FDA found the strain of E. coli in lettuce that sickened people in the 2018 outbreak in an irrigation canal near this feedlot, and because of the canal’s proximity to lettuce fields, compared to the other two animal feeding operations in Yuma County identified by the FDA .

Many parts of the feedlot border a large irrigation canal. And as the image below shows, a pool of cattle manure and wastewater from the animal operation is even located within feet of an irrigation canal, making a spillover into the canal possible. (The canal is represented in the image by the blue line.)

Image

Source: EWG, from Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Imagery Program, 2021 imagery 

As the map below shows, the irrigation canal that runs through the feedlot is connected to many miles of other canals in the valley. So if E. coli from the cattle operation washes or blows into the irrigation canal, it can travel for many miles and may wind up on a large number of leafy vegetable fields. And the irrigation canal at risk ultimately drains into the Colorado River. 

Image

Source: EWG, from Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Imagery Program, 2021 imagery 

Studies show that E. coli from cattle feedlots can drift in the air and land onto nearby farm fields. For our new analysis, EWG chose to look at a 3-mile buffer zone around McElhaney Feedyard to assess the number of acres of leafy greens fields, because research shows that 3 to 4 miles is the distance pollutants from animal feeding operations can travel by air and cause respiratory damage in residents. 

The map below shows 1,899 acres of leafy greens, including lettuce, cabbage and herbs, within a 3-mile buffer zone of the feedlot. And the closest leafy vegetable field is only 938 feet away from the cattle operation.

Image

Source: EWG, from Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Imagery Program, 2021 imagery 

The proximity of the irrigation canal to the cattle feedlot and the fact there are thousands of acres of lettuce near the feedlot means an E. coli outbreak on leafy greens from Yuma County could happen again. 

Inadequate regulation puts people at risk

Following a series of E. coli outbreaks caused by leafy greens, Congress in 2011 directed the FDA to develop standards for water sprayed on crops.

The rule the FDA first issued, in 2015, required enforceable periodic testing for contaminated irrigation water. But a revised rule, proposed in 2022, abandoned the requirement, allowing farms instead to decide whether to include tests in their “water assessments.” Voluntary efforts have not reduced the number of outbreaks, according to a CDC study. (Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Foodborne E. coli illnesses are still frequent in the U.S.

Image

Source: EWG, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Outbreak Reporting System

It is very difficult for consumers to protect themselves from E. coli in lettuce. The bacteria contaminate both organic lettuces as well as conventional ones, and studies show that washing lettuce before eating it does not significantly reduce E. coli, so there’s still a threat of getting sick. 

The risk of contamination to food grown in the U.S. will continue unless farmers face stricter regulations to conduct tests of their irrigation water, management of manure from industrial agriculture is more rigorously monitored, and the FDA enforces its regulations more aggressively. 

Methodology

For this analysis, EWG identified leafy greens fields within a 3-mile buffer of the McElhaney Feedyard in Yuma County, Ariz. The location of the feedyard was found through a visual search of aerial imagery, and a 3-mile buffer was placed around this animal facility.

Using a combination of the Department of Agriculture’s Common Land Unit data and the Cropland Data Layer, or CDL, we overlaid this 3-mile buffer zone with a footprint of all fields used to grow leafy greens. EWG included all fields the CDL claimed contain lettuces, cabbage and herbs, including double-cropped acres used to grow a leafy green during part of the year and a different crop during another part of the year.

EWG included in the analysis all fields the USDA says are used to grow leafy greens, except for smaller fields – less than five acres – because these may be falsely categorized as a leafy green.

To find a footprint of all the irrigation canals near the feedlot and the leafy greens fields, we used the National Hydrography Dataset, from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Areas of Focus Farming & Agriculture Factory Farms Farm Pollution Disqus Comments Authors Anne Schechinger Al Rabine January 11, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Embrace Rest in 2024: The New New Year’s Resolution

Dogwood Alliance - Thu, 01/04/2024 - 05:03

Embracing Rest: Recharge, Refocus, and Thrive As a new year begins, resolutions take center stage. There are ambitions to hit the gym or overhaul diets. But let’s shine a light on an essential resolution that’s often neglected. For a fulfilling 2024, we must prioritize REST. We’re part of a powerful movement that spotlights forests, climate, […]

The post Embrace Rest in 2024: The New New Year’s Resolution first appeared on Dogwood Alliance.
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Who We are

Biofuel Watch - Thu, 01/04/2024 - 03:42

Biofuelwatch provides information and undertakes advocacy and campaigning in relation to the climate, biodiversity, land and human rights and public health impacts of large-scale industrial bioenergy.  We are a small team of staff and volunteers based in Europe (including UK) and the USA. Our work has recently been supported by grants from Ceres Trust, CS Fund/Wash-Mott Legacy, Grassroots Foundation, NRDC, Packard Foundation, Patagonia Foundation, Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, Moore Charitable Foundation, Threshold Foundation and Swift Foundation. We are also grateful for smaller individual donations. Please see our donations page for details about how to support our work.

Please see our Privacy Statement

Our Chartiable Purpose

Biofuelwatch aims to advance citizenship and environmental protection through

-Advancing the education of the public about the environmental, climate, social and
public health impacts of different types of large-scale bioenergy as well as bio-based
products.

-Promoting sustainable renewable energy policies and investments which result in real
greenhouse gas reduction, protect ecosystems, soil, water and public health and which
protect human rights, including the right to food and water;

-Promoting environmental decision making in relation to bioenergy and other bio-based
products – including bioenergy-related decisions on land use and environmental
permitting – which prioritise the protection of climate, environment, social justice and
public health and promoting active citizenship in this respect.

Our Mission

Biofuelwatch provides systemic analysis based on secondary and occasionally primary research and undertakes advocacy and campaigning in relation to the climate, environmental, human rights and public health impacts of large-scale industrial bioenergy.

Our History

Biofuelwatch was founded in the UK in 2006 and shortly thereafter expanded to the US in 2008. The organisation began with a dedicated campaign against EU biofuel targets followed by US biofuel proposed at the time. We worked as part of an international network of organisations opposed to those targets because of their expected (and sadly now realised) negative impacts on forests, climate, land rights, and food sovereignty and security. We worked at the forefront of raising the alarm about the implications of creating an unprecedented and vast additional demand for crops and wood for energy. Though we were not able to prevent the policies from being put in place, we did set in motion a strong resistance that has continued now for over 15 years.

Within the first two years, we changed from being a purely volunteer-run UK group to becoming a UK-US organisation with our first funded staff member. Since 2010, our focus has been increasingly on the expansion of large-scale wood bioenergy, although we have continued to work on liquid biofuels and on a set of different bioenergy technologies.

Between 2008 and 2012, we led a highly successful UK campaign against burning palm oil and other liquid biofuels for heat and power. Today, no palm oil is burned for energy in this country. The campaign, which combined community outreach and resistance to proposed biofuel power and heat plants with national advocacy against subsidies for this form of energy, became a blueprint for our subsequent work against biomass plants in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Who We are and what we do

Biofuelwatch has a team of volunteer and staff members based in the UK and the USA. While relatively small, Biofuelwatch has out-sized influence as a result of our global network of trusted and longstanding collaborative relationships with many other organisations and individuals.

We know that effective change requires engagement with this issue at all levels from local communities to policy makers, and seek to ensure that the bioenergy concern becomes integrated and not siloed. Central to our mission, we recognise that a key to success in opposing industrial bioenergy is collaboration with climate and energy activists working to transition away from fossil fuels. It is imperative that we ensure bioenergy is not promoted as the alternative to fossil energy. If we are to bring about the broad systemic change with effective and justice-based solutions we must work together and do so with a holistic and strategic approach.


Over the years our work has taken many forms, but primarily we undertake research on bioenergy related technologies and policies, provide educational materials, assist community activists impacted by biomass and biofuel developments, help build capacity for other organisations, participate in relevant government and agency consultations, help to coordinate various national and international networks, have participated with the UNFCCC and UN Convention on Biological Diversity processes and served as reviewers for IPCC reports.


Biofuelwatch is recognized globally as a “go to” resource for critical analyses, providing rigorous well referenced briefings and reports that can provide a solid base from which to develop campaign work and enhance public and policy-maker’s understanding of the issues and consequences of large scale bioenergy and its environmental and human rights implications.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

7 ways to detox your home (and keep it clean) year ‘round

Environmental Working Group - Wed, 01/03/2024 - 06:31
7 ways to detox your home (and keep it clean) year ‘round rcoleman January 3, 2024

If you’ve ever thought about making changes in your household routine to lower your exposure to toxic chemicals, you may be put off by how daunting it seems. 

But changes are important, since Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors.

And you don’t need to make them all overnight. 

To help you detox your home in a manageable way, here are EWG’s top recommendations for lowering your exposure to harmful chemicals in your home. 

Attack the dust 

You may not be able to see the dust in your home except in a shaft of sunlight, but it’s there. This toxic stew of substances has many sources, including chemicals shed by home products, as well as clothing and other fibers, paint, hair, mold, pollen, bacteria, viruses, insects, smoke and ash, soot, animal fur and dander, dead skin and cooking residues, among others. 

To reduce dust coming into your home:

  • Leave your shoes at the door. We can track outdoor contaminants indoors on the soles of our shoes. It’s a good idea to change into slippers or house shoes when you get home. 
  • Vacuum. Run your vacuum cleaner on your floors and upholstery regularly, using a machine with a HEPA – high efficiency particulate air – filter. 
  • Clean floors. A traditional broom often just redistributes dust particles. Instead, use a wet mop on your floors and wet microfiber cloths to clean other surfaces.
  • Use an air purifier. Check the California Air Resources Board list of certified air cleaners to find the best ones. A machine with a HEPA filter can remove nearly all particles as small as 0.3 microns, the size of many dust mites and allergens. 
Avoid undisclosed 'fragrance'

Cleaning and personal care products often contain a toxic blend of chemicals known as “fragrance” – as many as thousands of them. Manufacturers aren’t required to list them on ingredient labels, but exposure may cause a range of health problems, including allergic reactions, hormone disruption and cancer.

To avoid fragrance:

  • Study labels. Steer clear of products, including traditional air fresheners, that contain “fragrance.”
  • Explore alternatives. Consult our Skin Deep® database and Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Look for products with low scores, indicating fewer toxic chemicals. And look for cleaners and personal care products, as well as diapers, bearing the EWG VERIFIED® mark, meaning they were made according to our strictest standards for your health. 
Banish 'forever chemicals'

PFAS can be found nearly everywhere, including the blood of 99 percent of Americans – which can make this class of chemicals the most overwhelming for many consumers to address. Since these “forever chemicals” are often not included on product labels, lowering our exposure can be especially challenging. 

Here are a few ways to shop smarter that can make a difference:

  • Be wary of any products labeled stain-resistant or water-resistant – they likely contain PFAS. Or shop from companies that have made commitments not to use PFAS in any of their products. Do your homework before buying new clothing and textiles, like furniture, to make sure they’re free from these harmful chemicals.
  • Carefully select your cookware. Anything billed “nonstick” likely contains PFAS or a just-as-bad replacement. Use cast iron, glass or stainless steel whenever possible. 
  • Cull PFAS-contaminated clothing. Clothing and textiles that are stain-, grease- and water-resistant have likely been coated or treated with some sort of PFAS. But most people can’t overhaul their wardrobe or redecorate their home in one fell swoop. Instead, over time, do what you can to remove the items you use most frequently or that come into contact with your kids.

It’s not necessarily possible to shop your way out of the PFAS contamination crisis, but every good choice can make a difference. 

Analyze and filter your water 

We use water constantly, and not just for drinking. We brush our teeth with it and cook with it. That’s a lot of exposure to chemicals that may lurk in your drinking water. They vary from water system to water system but may include PFAS, lead and pesticides, among others. 

To find out what contaminants might be in the drinking water in your area, look up your ZIP code in our Tap Water Database. You can then consult EWG’s water filter guide to find out which filter works most effectively to tackle those specific chemicals.

Air out

The air inside your home is two to five times more contaminated than the air outdoors. Here are some straightforward and low-cost or free ways to reduce indoor air pollution:

  • Open the windows. Let fresh air in and improve circulation.
  • Ventilate. Get the air moving in your bathroom and other areas where you may clean or use cleaning or personal care products. And turn on the fan or range hood in your kitchen. Cooking releases a variety of chemicals, including fine and ultrafine particles, from electric appliances, and nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde, among others, from gas appliances. 
Reduce plastic 

Plastic often contains harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates

Take stock of how much plastic you have in your home – you may own more than you can get rid of at once. To lower your exposure, focus on reducing the amount of plastic you use to heat and store food. You can:

  • Find safer substitutes. Replace plastic you use for food with safer materials, like glass and stainless steel.  
  • Order takeout less often. Food to go is often packed in plastic containers. The chemicals these containers are contaminated with can leach into food, especially if the packaging is reheated. If you do get takeout, make sure to put it in a ceramic or glass container for reheating.
  • Skip bottled water. The chemicals in plastic water bottles can leach into the water. Use a reusable stainless steel or glass container instead of plastic for drinking water on the go.
Upgrade your mattress 

A host of toxic chemicals may be embedded in a mattressvolatile organic compounds, or VOCs, fragrance, flame retardants, including fiberglass, and PVC or vinyl. Given the amount of time we – and especially our children – spend on a mattress, it’s important to try to lower our exposure to those chemicals as much as possible.

Your best bet is to look for a mattress made from better materials, or one certified organic. Better mattress materials include plant-based latex, cotton, wool and steel. They will have much lower VOCs compared to polyurethane foam. 

You can also:

  • Air it out. Get rid of some of the harmful VOCs in new mattresses before bringing them indoors.
  • Do your research. If using a hand-me-down, find out as much as you can about the manufacturer and the specific product. It could contain problematic chemicals. And make sure it’s free of mold, which can bring its own set of health concerns.
  • Avoid some of the worst chemicals. Do your research about imports – some imported mattresses may contain fiberglass. 

EWG has just begun taking applications for EWG VERIFIED for mattresses, so keep an eye out for options that our scientists have reviewed for safety and transparency.

Areas of Focus Household & Consumer Products Cleaning Supplies Family Health Toxic Chemicals Disqus Comments Authors Ketura Persellin January 3, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

PG&E sneaks in last-minute rate hike request to California regulators on final business day of 2023

Environmental Working Group - Tue, 01/02/2024 - 11:01
PG&E sneaks in last-minute rate hike request to California regulators on final business day of 2023 rcoleman January 2, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO – Reviled California utility Pacific Gas & Electric used the last business day of 2023 to slip in an eleventh-hour request for state regulators to approve a whopping 13 percent rate increase for its captive customers in 2024.

If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, the last-minute proposal would result in the typical PG&E customer’s electricity bill soaring by an additional $34.50 a month, or $414 more a year, PG&E’s press statement says

It’s the latest effort by PG&E to reap more money from its 16 million captive customers, following a pattern of rate increases. As recently as November, the CPUC approved one such steep rake hike, which added an average of $32.50 to utility bills.

Remarkably, there are no restrictions on the frequency or size of rate hike requests PG&E can make to state regulators. So PG&E customers find themselves grappling with some of the highest electric and gas bills in the nation, with no end in sight to the rate rises.

Critics, including EWG President and Marin County resident Ken Cook, argue that PG&E consistently exploits the CPUC’s woefully lax rate approval process. The five-member panel almost always bends over backwards to adhere to the company’s demands.   

“PG&E’s path through the CPUC has been one long, unending boulevard of green lights,” said Cook. “The unscrupulous monopoly will use every opportunity to fleece its captive ratepayers, and the unelected members of the commission consistently and dutifully comply.”

PG&E spent much of 2023 pushing the CPUC to approve a series of rate hikes, claiming the sky-high increases to the monthly bills of its customers are necessary to improve wildfire safety measures and build out more infrastructure, including new power lines.

Not content simply to fleece its captive customers for their electricity bills, the much-criticized Bay Area power company also led a successful push for the CPUC to help crush California’s popular residential rooftop solar program. PG&E was backed in that bid by the state’s two other investor-owned utilities.

The CPUC approved the utilities’ plan to dismantle financial incentives that gave working families access to solar and its many benefits, including lower electricity bills. The decision has also been disastrous for the more than 17,000 well-paid jobs lost as a result from the state’s once-booming solar industry, with more job losses expected in 2024. 

California had the opportunity to make PG&E a publicly owned utility after the reviled utility faced $30 billion in liability for starting a series of deadly wildfires, including the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people. PG&E was ultimately convicted of 84 counts of manslaughter and sought bankruptcy protection from the state in 2019.

Since then, the company has been financially rewarded to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, much of it from rate increases approved by the CPUC.

Unlike its ratepayers and the tens of thousands of solar industry workers who've lost their jobs, PG&E’s shareholders received positive news as the company announced the reinstatement of its quarterly dividend, set to commence payouts starting in January.

###

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Areas of Focus Energy Utilities Federal & State Energy Policy Fossil & Nuclear Regional Issues California Disqus Comments Press Contact Alex Formuzis alex@ewg.org (202) 667-6982 January 2, 2024
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

5 Moments of Hope from the US Climate Movement in 2023

350.org - Fri, 12/22/2023 - 07:51

It’s been a mixed year for climate progress in the US. Heading into 2024, we will finally see solar and wind surpass coal production in the US for the first time. 2023 also brought some promising investments in the transition to renewable energy. At the same time, we saw the hottest year on record and intensifying climate disasters that only emphasize the need to fully phase out fossil fuels and transition to justly-sourced, justly-implemented renewable energy much more quickly. The US remains the top oil producer and exporter in the world—it continues to cause disproportionate climate harm without taking adequate responsibility for it.

At the turn of a critical new year, we identified key signs of hope from the US climate movement to carry with us into 2024. All of them reveal growing public awareness of the climate emergency and who is causing it, and a refusal to accept the unjust and unsafe conditions we’ve been expected to accept. 

Pictured: members of 350 local groups gather at the March to End Fossil Fuels in NYC

1. Climate week in NYC: the first mass climate march since 2019, direct action, and a pledge for elected officials

Why it matters: this showed coordinated, collective action from across the climate movement. There were meaningful levels of involvement for everyone, including:

  • Hundreds risking arrest in disruptive actions at key financial institutions that invest in fossil fuels
  • Frontline communities and groups/contingencies from all over the US, including over 1,000 from 350 local groups, marching together in a crowd of 75,000 in NYC, making all the major headlines. Global South forces, including activists from the Ugandan diaspora who have been fighting to #StopEACOP, headed up the march.
  • A strategic pledge campaign that over 100 elected officials signed on to. Signees pledged to help hold the Biden admin accountable to phasing out fossil fuels and switching to renewable energy. 
  • Art and distributed actions across the country and world

 

2. Over 10,000 people wrote to the Federal Reserve

Why it matters: the Federal Reserve typically exists outside of the public’s attention, as this vague official entity that we can’t influence.

  • Many people didn’t know what the Fed does, or why it has a connection to our climate fight.
  • But after a year-long campaign for a Fossil Free Federal Reserve, the climate movement helped pressure the Fed, the “referee” of the US economy, to introduce a review of their impact on climate. As we wrapped up the campaign in February, 10,000+ of 350’s members submitted comments on the Federal Reserve’s climate plans. 

 

3. More Americans believe that climate change is here, now

Why it matters: this growing awareness weakens the fossil fuel industry’s hold on society. And misinformation is one of the biggest tools at their disposal.

  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe that climate change is causing harm in the US now (Pew Research Center)
  • 64% of U.S. adults say both that they’ve recently experienced extreme weather and that they believe it was caused at least partially by climate change, up from 54% in April. (AP News)
    • Unfortunately, this also means that frontline communities are facing exacerbating impacts while the rest of the country belatedly wakes up.
  • The media is also slowly starting to mention fossil fuels more often in climate change coverage. For example, Arizona news coverage of deadly heatwaves started a headline with “climate change” and named fossil fuels within the article.
  • Reminder: many of the major outlets are paid by the fossil fuel industry

 

Pictured: group photo from a public power convening in Maine in October (including 350 US staff)

4. We saw a renewed and growing push for public power

Why it matters: utilities can either accelerate or block climate progress. Restructuring utilities from investor-owned models to publicly-owned models would help move us towards both economic and climate justice.

  • Many view utility companies—and high utility bills—as just a stressful but necessary fact of life. As we increase public awareness of how utilities cater to investors and block renewable energy projects, we weaken the fossil fuel industry’s hold over society.
  • Utilities don’t have to be structured this way. Key campaigns, like Pine Tree Power in Maine, showed that across the country there is growing momentum for a different path forward. We can choose public power instead of letting rich faraway investors make our home energy decisions for us. 

 

5. The government is starting to question the planned expansion of LNG (fossil gas), on the heels of COP28

Why it matters: this is an example of our government responding to global public pressure.

  • The fossil fuel industry and their backers have historically tried to greenwash gas and present it as a “solution” and an “alternative to fossil fuels.” But gas IS a fossil fuel, and produces methane, which is even more harmful for warming the atmosphere in the short-term than CO2. 
  • Last week, COP28 concluded with an agreement that is only “historic” considering the extremely low bar past COPs have set. Yet thanks to major pressure from civil society, our partners in the small island nations that face some of the most devastating impact of climate chaos already, and you, COP28 did shift things. The coming year will be a moment of truth for whether top-emitting nations are serious about the “fossil fuel phaseout” that they finally put in the agreement.
  • There’s real hope: members of US Congress are now walking back their support of the planned expansion of LNG. Our frontline, environmental and climate justice partners in the Gulf region have long called for this. We’re hopeful that we might actually start to see support for gas wane so the renewable energy we are supporting can actually address the climate crisis. 

 

As the climate emergency only intensifies, we know that we have our work cut out for us. These signs of hope and of our movement growing give us strength for that fight. We look forward to climate progress together in 2024!

Be sure to stay up-to-date with 350 US on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

 

The post 5 Moments of Hope from the US Climate Movement in 2023 appeared first on 350.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Plant-powered holiday dishes approved by EWG

Environmental Working Group - Fri, 12/22/2023 - 04:56
Plant-powered holiday dishes approved by EWG rcoleman December 22, 2023

 For the festive season, EWG is dishing out some green gastronomic advice with mouthwatering plant-based recipes – perfect for a healthy and happy time over the holidays.

We asked our colleagues to help curate a list of their favorite dishes – each sustainable – that are guaranteed to make your holiday gatherings a smash hit with family and friends. These culinary ideas are as  good for the planet as it is for your health and your taste buds. 

The abundance of wonderful recipes we received made it challenging to feature them all. After some tough decisions, we've selected a few that stand out:

  • Administrative Associate Maryn Chmielewski shares her savory quesadillas, bursting with bell peppers, sweet potatoes, poblano peppers, black beans, scallions, and vegan cheese.
  • Human Resources Director Farah Siddiq suggests Brazil nut shortbread cookies and a side of nog ice cream for the perfect festive treat.
  • For those with a sweet tooth,, EWG VERIFIED® Social Media Manager Olivia Wagner recommends delicious brownies featuring dairy-free chocolate chips, sea salt, flax eggs, and sugar. 

We’ve also got delicious options for the main course:

And remember, you can use EWG’s Food Scores database to find good choices for quick and healthy meals and snacks during the holidays and beyond. The database lets you search for ratings for more than 80,000 different foods, based on nutrition, ingredients and how much processing went into their production.

You can also find some more favorites from our featured list of recipes here

When you’re buying ingredients to make meals over the festive period, remember it’s always best to buy organic fruits and vegetables, to avoid heavy pesticide loads.

Check out EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ to find out which produce is OK to buy conventional and when it’s best to buy organic.

Happy holidays and bon appétit from EWG! 

Areas of Focus Food & Water Food Farming & Agriculture Meat and Dairy Alternatives Disqus Comments Authors Alex Formuzis Geoff Horsfield December 22, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Reforming federal cosmetics law: What is the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act?

Environmental Working Group - Fri, 12/22/2023 - 04:52
Reforming federal cosmetics law: What is the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act? rcoleman December 22, 2023

Almost a year ago, President Joe Biden signed the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022, or MoCRA, into law, marking the first significant update to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act since 1938. The law takes effect on December 29. 

MoCRA grants the Food and Drug Administration more control over cosmetics, introducing recall authority, facility registration requirements and improved labeling.

While the law is a step in the right direction, it doesn't compel the FDA to review or restrict harmful chemicals. The U.S. has lagged behind more than 80 other countries who have taken action to protect their citizens from chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive harm. The European Union continues to review the safety of chemicals, adding 29 ingredients to its ban list in 2023 alone. That’s nearly three times the total ingredients banned by the FDA – ever. 

Every day, consumers in the U.S. are exposed to an average of two ingredients linked to cancer and two linked to chemicals that can harm the reproductive and development systems. Women use more personal care products than men, so they are exposed to more unique ingredients daily. 

The largest sources of ingredient exposures are body care, skin care and cosmetics. 

According to a 2023 survey commissioned by EWG, the average woman uses 13 products every day, containing 114 unique ingredients. On average, men use 11 products daily, with 105 unique ingredients, compared to a 2004 EWG study finding they used six products containing 85 unique chemicals.

While MoCRA marks a welcome first step toward fixing the broken cosmetics safety law, there is still substantial work to be done to ensure the safety of chemicals used in personal care products. The new law falls short of compelling the FDA to review and potentially restrict or ban chemicals. But it gives the agency important new authorities.

New FDA powers under MoCRA 
  • Reporting adverse events: MoCRA expands the definition of serious adverse events for cosmetics, improving transparency. Starting December 29, companies must report such events within 15 days, with records maintained for six years. 
  • Recall authority overview: The FDA is now empowered to intervene in health-related events caused by cosmetics, requesting recalls. Non-compliance can lead to an immediate stop to distribution.
  • Register facilities and consumer products: Cosmetic facilities must register with the FDA by July 1, 2024. New facilities need to register within 60 days of production or by February 27, 2024. On December 18, the FDA launched Cosmetics Direct, a portal for companies to register facilities and list their personal care products.
  • Good manufacturing processes: MoCRA grants the FDA authority to set standards for cosmetic facilities, emphasizing quality control and sanitary conditions. The aim is to prevent adulteration or contamination of personal care products, and facilitate FDA inspections to ensure product integrity.
  • Improved labels: From December 29, 2024, product labels must include domestic contact information for reporting adverse events. 
  • Disclose fragrance allergens: Starting July 29, 2024, fragrance allergens must be labeled on personal care products.
  • Safety substantiation: Companies must maintain records supporting safety substantiation, even though the FDA isn't mandated to review them. 
  • Talc-containing cosmetics: The FDA must develop a rigorous screening method to detect asbestos – a deadly human carcinogen for which there is no safe level of exposure – in talc used in personal care products. In 2020, laboratory tests of talc-based cosmetics commissioned by EWG found asbestos in almost 15 percent of samples, including products marketed to children. That analysis called attention to the inadequate methods used by the cosmetics industry to screen talc supplies. 
  • PFAS in cosmetics: The use of the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS in personal care products will be assessed for safety and risks based on scientific evidence, potentially through consulting with the National Center for Toxicological Research. A summary report of the findings must be issued within three years.
Focus on state laws

MoCRA does preserve the crucial authority of states to ban or regulate chemicals of concern in personal care products. The hard work of regulating ingredients now falls to the states. 

To fill the void left by the lack of federal action, states have passed laws to regulate chemicals used in personal care products like cosmetics – and continued vigilance at the state level is vital. 

Twenty states have passed laws limiting certain substances in cosmetics, including California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. These chemicals have stricter limits in these states due to concerns about their potential health effects: 1,4-dioxane, cadmium, color additives, formaldehyde, mercury, parabens, PFAS, phthalates, methyl alcohol and methyl methacrylate.

Nothing in MoCRA prevents states from proceeding to ban or restrict cosmetics ingredients. States can determine if an ingredient is allowed in cosmetics and how much of it can be used.

Here are some of the laws recently enacted to regulate chemicals in cosmetics by states:

California

California has been a pioneer in safeguarding consumers and salon workers against harmful substances in personal care products. The state first implemented the Safe Cosmetics Act, requiring manufacturers to reveal the presence of Proposition 65 chemicals linked to cancer or birth defects in their personal care products. California then passed the Professional Cosmetics Labeling Requirements Act, mandating ingredient labels on professional salon products. In 2020, a significant victory happened for consumers with the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, which banned 24 toxic chemicals from cosmetics sold in California. Led by EWG, along with partners like Black Women for Wellness, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, and CALPIRG, this initiative marked a crucial milestone. That same year, the Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act was enacted, requiring disclosure of fragrance mixture ingredients in personal care products. In 2022, California took a monumental step by banning all intentionally added PFAS from personal care products, effective on January 1, 2025. The state continued its commitment this year by banning 26 more chemicals from cosmetics.

Colorado

In 2022, Colorado banned the entire family of PFAS from cosmetics. The ban will go into effect on January 1.

Maryland

In 2021, Maryland passed a law banning 24 chemicals from use in personal care products.

Maine

Passed in 2021, this state law bans the sale of a wide range of consumer products, including cosmetics, with intentionally added PFAS starting in 2030.

Minnesota

In 2023, Minnesota enacted Amara’s Law, which bans the nonessential use of PFAS from consumer products like cosmetics. Ten years earlier, the state banned formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical, from use in personal care products marketed for children under age eight like lotions, shampoos and bubble bath.

New York

In 2022, the state passed maximum allowable concentrations of 1,4 dioxane for cosmetics. On December 23 the same year, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill banning mercury in personal care products and cosmetics, which took effect on June 1.

Oregon

The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act passed this year prohibits all PFAS, formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers methylene glycol, mercury, triclosan and ortho-phthalates from cosmetics and personal care products sold in the state beginning in 2027. Manufacturers will be required to publicly disclose all chemical ingredients on their product websites effective Jan. 1, 2025.

Washington

In 2008, Washington passed the Children’s Safe Products Act, which requires manufacturers of children’s products – including personal care products – to report chemicals of high concern to children in their products. In 2023, Washington enacted the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, which bans intentionally added chemicals like the entire class of PFAS, ortho-phthalates, formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasers methylene glycol, mercury, triclosan, m-phenylenediamine and its salts, and o-phenylenediamine and its salts. The bans take effect in 2025, except for formaldehyde releasers, with a phased-in approach beginning in 2026. After January 1, 2025, any product containing or contaminated with lead compounds above 1 part per million will be banned from sale in the state.

Moving the market to healthier options

In 2004, EWG created the Skin Deep® database to provide online profiles for ingredients and personal care products, revealing potential hazards and health concerns. The aim was to fill the significant data gaps left by industry and the government. EWG's team of scientists assesses product labels and websites, referencing nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases to provide easy-to-navigate ingredient and product ratings.

Many products on the market today contain chemicals linked to health issues. With a growing awareness of potential health hazards, consumers are demanding transparency and question the safety of the personal care products they use every day. More and more, shoppers are looking to trusted third party evaluators to navigate the marketplace.

The EWG VERIFIED® program was developed to aid consumers in navigating the saturated market of “clean” products. The EWG VERIFIED mark only appears on products that meet our robust ingredient and transparency requirements, making it a trusted way for people to make informed choices about consumer products.

For people on the go, EWG’s Healthy Living App provides ratings and safety information for quick reference, empowering consumers to make informed choices, especially for products without the EWG VERIFIED mark.  

Areas of Focus Personal Care Products Cosmetics Sunscreen Family Health Reproductive Health Toxic Chemicals Disqus Comments Authors Monica Amarelo December 22, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Bellona nuclear digest, November 2023

Bellona.org - Thu, 12/21/2023 - 11:55

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Bellona ceased its activity in the aggressor country. On 18 April 2023 the Russian general prosecutor’s office declared Bellona to be an undesirable.

However, we continue to monitor events in the field of nuclear and radiation safety relating to Russia and Ukraine, which we believe are of interest to foreign readers. We analyze the situation in order to assess the degree of Russia’s international influence on other countries and the risks connected with this. We present you with a survey of these events for November 2023.

Follow the links to read the last three digests for October, September and August. Subscribe to our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss the next digest. Download a PDF of November’s digest here

In this issue:

NUCLEAR RISKS AND THE WAR IN UKRAINE
1. Zaporizhzhia NPP. Event timeline for November 2023

INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR NEWS AND ITS CONNECTION WITH RUSSIA
2. French President Emmanuel Macron visits Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to strengthen cooperation in the nuclear sphere
3. French nuclear fuel plant in Germany continues cooperation with Rosatom and intends to send enriched uranium to Russia

EVENTS IN THE RUSSIAN NUCLEAR INDUSTRY AND IN ROSATOM PROJECTS ABROAD
4. Problems with Russian turbines for VVER-1200 reactors, and Russian tensioners instead of German ones
5. Rosatom consolidates assets for expanding transport capabilities on the Northern Sea Route and beyond
6. Rosatom reports completion of scrapping Lepse nuclear service ship
7. Last fuel unloaded from RBMK-1000 reactor of unit 1 of Kursk NPP
8. Development of the Paks-2 NPP project in Hungary: visit by the head of Rosatom, new suppliers of fuel and delivery routes

​Nuclear risks and the war in Ukraine Zaporizhzhia NPP. Event timeline for November 2023 ↑

After the reactor vessel of unit 3 was closed in October, which had been left open for almost one and a half years after technical maintenance was carried out in 2022, in November pressure tests continued of the unit’s steam generators. After tests were completed, sealing was carried out. Repair works were then carried out on the primary cooling circuit, and pressure testing. On 17 November, it was planned to complete pressure testing of the secondary circuit in the coming days (but unit 3 was not mentioned again in November updates). At the ZNPP, IAEA experts were informed that after pressure testing, unit 3 remains in cold shutdown

On 17 November, IAEA reported that in unit 5, which was in “hot shutdown”, boron had been detected in the second cooling circuit (boron is only supposed to be contained in the primary cooling circuit and in the emergency system). The site therefore increased the frequency of boron measurements in the secondary cooling circuit of unit 5, and measurements remained relatively stable and within the limits permitted by the reactor’s technical specifications. Radioactivity in the second circuit was not detected. The ZNPP stated that the unit will remain in hot shutdown until all the mobile boilers which provide heating in Enerhodar have started operating, after which repeat assessments of the state of the unit will be made. 

On 21 November, the IAEA published a report that, after all, on 20 November unit 5 had begun to be switched to cold shutdown mode, and that the ZNPP intended to determine the cause of boron detected in the secondary cooling circuit. The decision was taken after one of the three 17.4 MW diesel boilers located on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia TPP was put into operation on 17 November. (Previously it was reported that it was planned to convert these boilers to gas in December). But several days later the IAEA group was informed that there would not be an immediate investigation of the causes for boron appearing in the second cooling circuit. 

Thus, at the end of November all units apart from unit 4 were in cold shutdown mode. Unit 4 remains in hot shutdown mode to provide steam for the needs of the ZNPP, and is also used to heat the plant and Enerhodar. Additional heat is provided by 9 mobile diesel boilers, installed at the ZNPP, and also boilers located in the nearby industrial zone (the IAEA reported that in the industrial zone 21 gas boilers with a total capacity of 57 MW of heat were installed). Also, 50 mobile boilers are installed in Enerhodar itself. 

IAEA director general Rafael Grossi expressed concerns that because of the reduction in experience service personnel after the capture of the plant, the NPP would be unable to support of comprehensive program of systematic technical maintenance, and that some works on servicing the safety system of reactors might not be complete. The detection of boron in the second circuit was not the first incident. In August there was a leak in the primary cooling circuit of the reactor of unit 4, and in October small leaks were detected in the primary circuit of the reactor of unit 6. Additionally, in September at unit 5 there was a water leak in the recirculating seal of the main technical water system, and the safety channels of unit 5 and 6 were shut down for repairs. 

In November, the ZNPP once more encountered glitches in the electricity supply of the power units. On 14 November, power was cut off for one and a half hours at unit 6, and it was switched to the emergency diesel generator. The next day the IAEA group was informed that part of the security system of unit 6 was scheduled for repairs. A search for the cause of the power cut continues. (We should note that in November technical maintenance of the main transformers of all six units was carried out).  

On 26 November, as a result of a short circuit that took place approximately 100 km to the north of the plant, the plant lost power from the main 750 kV power line and was switched to the single 330 kV reserve line. However, one emergency diesel generator which powers unit 4 was also switched on, which may show problems with the electrical configuration of the unit. The generator was switched off manually, and power to the plant from the main line was restored on the same day. 

On 2 December at the ZNPP a total blackout took place that lasted several hours, the eighth since the war in Ukraine began. The plant lost its connection with both external power lines and temporarily switched to the emergency diesel generators. Initially, because of damage to the external grid on the evening of 1 December the 330 kV reserve line was cut, and five hours later during an air raid, the main 750 kV power line was cut. During the power outage, operation of the four main coolant pumps of the reactor of unit 4 was interrupted, and during this time the reactor was switched to semi-hot shutdown. By the morning of 2 December, power from the 750 kV line was restored. 

The IAEA reports that the IAEA group at the ZNPP can hear explosions almost every day. On 26 November, experts heard the sound of several rockets, which evidently were launched not far from the plant. The IAEA group did not see the rockets because of cloud cover, but the distinctive sound showed that they had been launched from a multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS) located nearby. On 28 November, distinctive sounds of rockets were heard for a second time.  

The IAEA group also heard multiple artillery rounds, which also seemed to have been fired from near the ZNPP. The information circular of the permanent representative of Ukraine at the IAEA reported that according to an analysis of satellite images commissioned by Greenpeace, firing positions of the Russian military were discovered within a range of 1-18 km from the occupied ZNPP. From these locations, since March 2022, shelling has been conducted from MLRS, particularly BM-21 Grad and BM-30 Smerch. 

Not only military activity around the ZNPP has been observed. On 29 November it was reported that there were explosions near the Khmelnitsky NPP, though the plant was not damaged. 

Locations around the Zaporizhzhia NPP site from which artillery rounds were allegedly fired from the Russian side from July 2022 to May 2023. Source: Greenpeace Report “A Nuclear Power Plant as Launch Pad. Analysis of the occupation of Zaporizhzhia NPP by Russian armed forces and Rosatom and the role of the IAEA”

In November, experts continued to carry out walkdowns of the buildings and territory of the plant. During a walkdown of the perimeter of the plant on 3 and 5 November, the group did not detect any mines or explosives, including in regions where they were observed earlier.

The team of experts continues to request access to the rooftops of the reactor buildings of units 1, 5 and 6 (in October the team was able to visit roofs of three other units of the ZNPP). The team also requests acc I ess to all six turbine halls for continuous inspection in the course of one day. But so far the team was only able to inspect all six main reactor control rooms on 15 November, which allowed experts to gather more information about the personnel and confirm the status of each reactor.

On 23 November, two-hour emergency training exercises were held at the ZNPP, which members of the IAEA mission had the opportunity to observe. They involved actions which should be taken in response to a hypothetical break of a pipe containing radioactive wastewater, and the disconnection of power from one reactor unit.

Emergency training exercises were also carried out at the Rivne NPP and at the radioactive liquid waste treatment plant at the Chernobyl site.

Commentary by Bellona: The situation at nuclear sites of Ukraine will remain complex and unpredictable until the end of the war. The danger may be that Russia, after waiting for low temperatures to arrive, will intentionally or accidentally attack the NPP or system maintenance sites, with the aim of intimidating or destroying the energy system of Ukraine, which for a number of reasons is already on the brink of extinction.

The occupied ZNPP is in a special mode. Real danger may arise here from the actions of both warring sides. Most of the information on events at the ZNPP from Russia has no alternative independent confirmations, which cast doubt on its veracity, while most of these reports are filled with propaganda clichés and only have the purpose of blaming Ukraine. The Ukrainian side tries to comment on each event at the ZNPP and in Enerhodar to emphasize that the situation of the nuclear plant is unacceptable, which is quite understandable and correct.

In the information coverage of events at the ZNPP, for the first time the IAEA mission at the ZNPP detected and stated in information report 197 on 26 November that rockets had been launched from the territory near the plant, which practically shows that the Russian side launched the rockets. Previously, the IAEA avoided directly accusing the sides of involvement in specific military actions of both a defensive and attacking nature.

Equipped firing positions of concrete blocks on the roofs of reactor sections 2, 4 and 5 of the Zaporizhzhya NPP filmed by journalists on 15 June during a visit to the plant by IAEA director Rafael Grossi. Credit: Collage by Bellona comprised of frames from the video.

In May this year, IAEA director general Rafael Grossi announced a change of functions in the mission’s task, with increased attention by IAEA inspectors, to aspects of military actions around the ZNPP. However, previously this policy was only reflected in increased inspections of plant buildings and detecting military equipment and mines. The launch of rockets near the plant were recorded for the first time.

From the standpoint of the expert community, at present and in the foreseeable future the ZNPP will continue to face a number of serious problems which may have a negative impact on the plant’s safety. They are:

– the uncertain technical state of systems, mechanisms, aggregates and various structures which during operation of the NPP require constant technical maintenance and strict implementation of all regulations stipulated by technical and operation documents. The long shutdown mode for NPP units requires special measures for their safe operation, as these modes are not used in practice;

– the moral and physical state of the operating and servicing personnel at the NPP, which may be heavily influenced by the situation in which they and their families find themselves;

– regular blackouts at the ZNPP, which have been taking place with increasingly frequency of late;

– the uncertain future of the ZNPP, which already shows that even if conditions arise for switching NPP units into power mode, this will be impossible without a complete overhaul of all equipment, which will require a great deal of time and resources;

– and finally, the military and political situation, which may at any moment turn the nuclear power into a dirty nuclear radiation bomb.

Thus, despite the optimistic reports and assurances from Energoatom that everything is under control at nuclear facilities (except for the ZNPP), Bellona believes that the situation in the energy sector of Ukraine, including in the nuclear sector, may change practically overnight. It all depends on the military and political situation and events on the frontline.

International nuclear news and its connection with Russia French President Emmanuel Macron visits Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to strengthen cooperation in the nuclear sphere

In early November, Emmanuel Macron made official visits to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. According to sources at Bloomberg, the goal of Macron’s visit to these countries was to strengthen the energy security of France.

On 1 November, Macron visited Astana. Kazatomprom reports that during his visit the Kazatomprom’s Chief Executive Officer Meirzhan Yussupov and the Framatome’s Fuel Business Unit, Sales & Marketing Vice President Vincent Mercier signed an agreement on developing cooperation in the nuclear fuel cycle. French companies already have experience of cooperation with the Kazakhstan nuclear sector, with the Ulba Fuel Assembly plant launched in 2021 for the manufacture of fuel assemblies for China, and the countries intend to develop cooperation in the nuclear sector further.

Additionally, the French company Orano is developing a uranium field in Kazakhstan through a joint enterprise with Kazatomprom (TOO SP KATKO). During Macron’s visit, the Kazakhstan energy minister Almasadam Satkaliyev reported that Kazakhstan was examining the possibility of working with Orano, including prospects for obtaining technologies for uranium conversion and enrichment.

On 2 November, Macron visited Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistan presidential office reported that President Shavkat Mirziyoyev had met with a number of French managers visiting together with Macron. At a meeting with the CEO of Orano Claude Imauven, the parties “supported initiatives for expanding cooperation in surveying and producing uranium”.

Commentary by Bellona: The French authorities are trying to strengthen and increase the volume of uranium deliveries from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, after complications in the situation with the largest supplier, Niger. In 2022 these two Central Asian nations accounted for 27% and 4.4% of uranium deliveries to Europe respectively, where the main consumer is France. Taking into account the recent agreement on development of uranium fields in Mongolia, France is trying to ensure future deliveries of uranium that bypass Russia.

However, Rosatom’s presence in these countries and the close cooperation in many production areas carries the risks that French projects will be realized in cooperation with Russia to one degree or another.

Additionally, besides uranium production, France is developing cooperation in Kazakhstan for increased participation in the nuclear fuel cycle, has already opened a plant for manufacturing nuclear fuel in the country, and is discussing the possibility of cooperation in uranium enrichment as well. As the Kazakhstan government not only plans the future construction of an NPP, but also to provide it with its own fuel, all of this increases France’s chances to win the future tender for construction of this NPP, or to play a significant role in this project in cooperation with other participants.

However, Russia also has a large chance of winning this tender. There is a risk of increased dependence of the French nuclear industry on Russia if the project for the future NPP in Kazakhstan is awarded to a joint project of companies from Russia and France. For example, if the project for the nuclear section is awarded to Rosatom, and the turbine delivery project is awarded to France, as is already the case in NPP projects in Turkey, Egypt and Hungary (see the section below on turbines for VVER-1200 reactors).

French nuclear fuel plant in Germany continues cooperation with Rosatom and intends to send enriched uranium to Russia

In early November, European and Russian-language independent media outlets reported that according to German environmental groups a plant for the manufacture of fuel rod elements in Lingen, owned by the French group Framatome, was planning to export enriched uranium to Russia. The German environmental ministry confirmed that the plant was examining an application to “export nuclear fuel waste” to Russia. Enriched uranium is planned to be transported from Germany to the Machinery Manufacturing Plant (JSC MSZ) owned by Rosatom. Transportation will be carried out by trucks from Lingen to a port in the Netherlands and by ship to Russia, and from there to the final destination, the town of Elektrostal in the Moscow Oblast.

Judging from licenses for transportation issued by the Netherlands, this may involve the return of scrap metal of fuel rods back to the Russian supplier.

The environmental groups which reported this transportation state that the export of enriched uranium from Lingen violates EU sanctions, which prohibit the export of dual-purpose goods to Russia if the production “may have ultimate military use”. Nuclear material and enriched materials (even of fuel enrichment under 5% in the form of scrap metal of fuel rods) is classified as such production. In a report by Radio Liberty, a representative of the German economic ministry Nina Marie Güttler notes the prohibition on transporting enriched uranium according to the EU decree on dual-purpose goods. However, she cites article 2, point 4a, which allows for exceptions to this ban. These exceptions are possible for “production, guaranteed maintenance, and enrichment of uranium for fuel rods and the safety of nuclear facilities, and also for peaceful nuclear cooperation, especially in the field of science and development”. Each individual case should however be examined separately.

Commentary by Bellona: The deliveries in question probably reflect the existing practice of many years of cooperation between Rosatom and European companies: the Russian MSZ plant, one of the two major nuclear fuel plants in Russia, delivers fuel rod elements for the plant in Lingen, where fuel cartridges for NPPs of foreign design are assembled from them. This scheme is one way for delivering fuel materials to the EU from Russia, which accounts for around a quarter of such deliveries in various proportions – both natural and enriched uranium, and fuel elements and final fuel. The return of nuclear fuel waste described by the media from Germany to Russia clearly constitutes a very insignificant percentage compared with deliveries of these materials from Russia to the EU.

Therefore, it is difficult technically to classify these operations as deliveries of critically important goods of dual purpose for Russia, which may assist Russia in continuing the war in Ukraine, especially that existing juridical procedures evidently do indeed make an exception for them.

Nevertheless, such operations are an example of the extensive network of close cooperation ties between Rosatom and the European nuclear industry. The very existence of this mutual dependence is undoubtedly a factor that restrains the EU from applying sanctions against the Russian nuclear sector and supporting Ukraine.

Bellona believes that this dependence should be stopped, as it presents a clear threat for the EU against the backdrop of the Kremlin’s aggressive policies.

Events in the Russian nuclear industry and in Rosatom projects abroad Problems with Russian turbines for VVER-1200 reactors, and Russian tensioners instead of German ones ↑

On 12 November, unit 5 of the Leningrad NPP was disconnected from the grid automatically as part of the turbogenerator protection system. This is the second time the unit has shut down this year, and the cause was damage to the low pressure cylinder blades of the high-speed steam turbine manufactured by “Silovye Mashiny”. After the first shutdown in summer, the blades in the turbine were replaced, but the situation repeated itself. At other NPPs there have not been any problems with these turbines.

In Russia, a total of four high-speed K-1200 turbines are in operation, manufactured in 2010-2013. These turbines were installed on two new units of the Leningrad NPP-2 and put into operation in 2018 and 2020, and at two units of the Novovoronezh NPP-2 (VVER-1200): unit six has worked since 2016, and unit seven since 2019. Additionally, two K-1200 turbines manufactured in 2015 and 2017 are installed on two units of the Belarussian NPP. A total of eight such steam turbines have been manufactured (two are intended for the Rooppur NPP).

Rotor and blades of the low-pressure cylinder of the turbine of unit 2 of the Leningrad NPP-2 during assembly, 2018 Credit: Rosatom

In 2024, the KMZ holding (Kingisepp Machine Building Plant) plans to make the first Russian model of a stud tensioner – a mechanism for sealing nuclear reactor vessels – for NPPs built according to Russian projects. These items were previously purchased from the German company Siempelkamp, and in Soviet times were manufactured at the Izhorsky plant (from 2012, the Izhorsky plant produced tensioners for VVERs of joint development with the German firm Siempelkamp Tensioning Systems (STS)).

“At present modernization of the German tensioner is underway. This involves full re-engineering, replacement of software and switching to our own components,” the managing director of the KMZ holding Mikhail Danilenko stated in an interview. He says that for nuclear reactors the holding is presently manufacturing tensioners of several types: from a main tensioner with a diameter of five meters to an auxiliary one-meter. For the development and manufacture of tensioners, which could replace the production of the German company Siempelkamp, KMZ has signed contracts with the Russian Export Center and the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

At present around half of Russian NPPs have equipment from the German firm installed. The cost of tensioners that are planned for export to nuclear power plants in Turkey, Kudankulam (India) and Busher (Iran) are valued at 2.4 billion rubles. Contracts should be implemented in the next four years. The KMZ has also signed an agreement with the Elektrokhimpribor combine, part of Rosatom, for delivering tensioners for NPPs build by Atomstroiexport abroad. According to a preliminary assessment, the sum of contracts for the affiliated company of Rosatom will be 10 billion rubles over the next 10 years.

Commentary by Bellona: The Russian nuclear industry is capable of manufacturing practically all components for NPPs independently, but is not so strong in manufacturing steam turbines for NPPs. In the Soviet period and even until recently (such as the Rostov NPP, with its four units put into operation in 2001-2018), a significant percentage of turbine equipment was manufactured at the Turboatom plant in Ukraine.

Export projects of Russian NPPs, primarily the VVER-1200 project, allow the customer to choose turbine equipment of both Russian and foreign models. The first option is used within Russia and in a number of NPPs abroad in countries with difficult relations with the West – such as NPPs in Iran and Belarus. Additionally, Russian turbines were delivered to NPPs in India and to early projects of Russian NPPs in China.

However, for most foreign NPPs built by Rosatom, foreign turbines are delivered, mainly Arabelle turbines of French productions – for NPPs in Turkey, Egypt, Hungary. China, where Rosatom is building 4 VVER-1200 reactors, has preferred to use its own turbines.

Thus, the involvement of the western company Alstom Power Systems (owned by the French Alstom, previously owned by General Electric from 2016-2022) allowed Rosatom to increase the competitive advantages of its foreign projects and win tenders for new NPPs in third-party countries, including those with good relations with the West.

Attempts by Rosatom to create its own high-quality world-class equipment without the use of western technologies will take time, if it is even possible at all. The same goes for tensioners, which it plans to manufacture in Russia completely independently, without the involvement of German companies.

Rosatom consolidates assets for expanding transport capabilities on the Northern Sea Route and beyond ↑

On 8 November, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to transfer to Rosatom 92.4% of assets in the Far East Shipping Company (DVMP), the head company of the FESCO group, one of the largest logistic transport companies in Russia with assets in port, railway and integrated logistic business.

In early 2023, this share package was confiscated by the state after the co-owner of FECO Ziyavudin Magomedov was sentenced to 19 years in a maximum-security prison on 1 December 2022 on charges of creating a criminal group and embezzling billions in budget funds. In his turn, Magomedov accused his partners and management of a “hostile takeover of the group”. In September 2023, Magomedov filed a lawsuit in a British court against the former managers of FESCO, its present and former shareholders, and also Transneft and Rosatom, accusing the plaintiffs of a “global conspiracy” with the aim of appropriating their property for the state and for themselves.

Rumors on FESCO joining Rosatom were first heard three years ago, but at that time this only concerned agreements on joint management of the Vladivostok sea trade port (part of the DVMP) through a managing company. At that time Rosatom was already the operator of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), and FESCO provided over 30% of cargo transportation (or over 10,000 tons) for NPPs under construction abroad.

The first transit shipment with cargo from the FESCO group of 65 containers dispatched on the nuclear light carrier ship “Sevmorput” on the route St. Petersburg – Vostochny port – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky by the Northern Sea Route. June 2023 Credit: Fesco Group

This is not the first asset of Rosatom connected with container transportation. Since 2022, Rosatom has also owned 49% of assets in the Delo Group, which manages sea container terminals in the Azov-Black Sea, Baltic and Far East basins, a network of railway container terminals, and a depot of containers and fitting platforms.

The transport and logistic side of the group’s business includes the intermodal container operator Transcontainer and the multimodal transport operator Ruskon. On 8 November it was reported that the head company of the group, Delo Management Company, would be headed by Rosatom business development director Ekaterina Lyakhova, and that Transcontainer, one of the group’s key assets, would be run by a manager with a long history of working in Rosatom structures.

Additionally, on 20 October Rosatom and DP World (Dubai, UAE), one of the main international operators of sea terminals and a supplier of logistic and other services, created the joint enterprise International Container Logistics. 51% of the enterprise will be owned by the Rosatom subdivision and 49% by the Russian division of DP World. In June 2023 Rosatom and the DP World company signed an agreement on joint development of Euro-Asian transport logistics and container transportation on the Northern Sea Route.

Commenting on the transfer of DVMP shares on Russian television, Rosatom general director Aleksey Likhachev stated that Rosatom was carrying out the functions of the single infrastructural operator of the NSR, responsible for icebreaker support of the fleet, and that it also had the task to manage all sea movement on the NSR and take responsibility for a section of northern transportation. He noted that Rosatom had been entrusted with the task of creating a new global logistics corridor on the NSR, which would compete with other world logistic chains.

“Our task is to reassign a considerable amount of global sea transportation between the growing economies of Asia, South East Asia, and the conservative but sufficiently large market of Europe,” he added. “This is difficult to achieve without our own logistic asset. We have this experience, and the company Delo has a very serious alliance with us, but this mainly involves land transportation. But for sea transportation, FESCO occupies a very large percentage of the global market, it is an absolutely dominant [company] in the interests of Russian transportation”.

For 2023 Rosatom expects to set a record for transit cargo on the NSR. The previous record was set in 2021, when transit cargo reached 2 million tons, but in 2022 it dropped by 90%. Rosatom therefore held “systematic work with companies”, for example with Gazprom Neft, proposing that it move part of its cargo flow to the NSR, especially as it is moving into Chinese markets. At the same time, transportation on the Northern Sea Route is on average more expensive than by other routes.

Commentary by Bellona: Ongoing events and Rosatom’s active work on the Northern Sea Route show that the Arctic region and everything that takes place amounts to a geopolitical task and goal which Russia intends to realize in the near future. For Rosatom, which has been entrusted with practically all management and the majority of the Arctic resources, these decisions are a sign of maximum trust on Putin’s part.

It is noteworthy that, there are practically no major “nuclear tasks” that need to be solved in the Arctic. Plans to build a floating NPP on the Arctic coastline so far only remain on paper. The increase in construction of nuclear icebreakers against the background of climate change and the reduction in ice cover raises many questions. The coastal nuclear legacy over the past 20 years has significantly decreased.

For a long time, discussions were held about who should be entrusted with raising and eliminating the sunken and submerged nuclear legacy. Rosatom initially refused to take a leading role in this project, but international interest and financing became decisive factors for its participation in the project.

However, now that international partners have left all Arctic projects, it is likely that the emergency ministry in cooperation with the navy may be entrusted with raising and eliminating these objects. Rosatom at present is mainly dealing with logistical tasks of global and regional sea transportation.

It is notable that Rosatom is increasingly interested in the prospect of its involvement in mineral production in the Arctic zone. This is shown by activation of the project for mining lead-zinc ores at the Pavlovskoe field on Novaya Zemlya, Rosatom’s interest in acquiring a gold-mining product in the Irkutsk Oblast, the agreement signed by the Rosatom structure with the government of Chukotka on cooperation in developing the Savino field, and others.

Rosatom reports completion of scrapping Lepse nuclear service ship ↑

Rosatom has announced the end of the ten-year procedure of scrapping the Lepse nuclear service ship, which provided support for the first nuclear icebreakers, and which contained spent nuclear fuel which had presented a considerable environmental risk to the region for many years. The last block containing deactivated fragments of the vessel was placed in the storage facility for reactor sections in Saida Bay.

The Lepse cargo ship, built in 1934, was reequipped as a floating maintenance base in 1961. Until 1981, the base carried out recharging of nuclear fuel for reactors of nuclear icebreakers. Since 1981, Lepse was used only for storage of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. In 1988, the base was decommissioned. A study of the vessel and development of a project for scrapping it began in 2005. Realization of this project was financed both by the federal budget and with international technical assistance. In 2012, radiation and engineering inspection of the vessel and its storage facility was carried out, and the vessel was also towed from the Atomflot enterprise to the Nerpa coastal ship repair yard for subsequent scrapping.

The main source of radioactive hazard of the Lepse floating base is its storage facility of spent nuclear fuel (SNF). Work on unloading and removing SNF from the base – 639 fuel assemblies, some of which were damaged (which means they could not be extracted from the vessel by ordinary means) – required special technical solutions from specialists of the nuclear sector. From 2012 to 2017, the Lepse floating base was gradually dismantled, and SNF was removed for processing.

The head of projects of international technical assistance at Rosatom, Anatoly Grigoriev, commented that scrapping Lepse had cost around 60 million Euros; “55 million came from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, and we provided the rest”.

The Bellona Foundation (Oslo, Norway) and the Russian offices of Bellona (St. Petersburg, Murmansk) paid great attention for over 25 years to the “Lepse Project”, which was initiated in 1994.

Lepse floating maintenance base on the staple slab of the ship repair yard, 2014 Credit: Bellona Archive

Commentary by Bellona: Indeed, for almost 20 years Rosatom has been cleaning up the Arctic coastline, and the project for scrapping Lepse continued for almost 30 years. It may be considered that the project began in 1994, when Bellona wrote its “black report”, and at the Murmansk maritime shipping department (which was at that time in charge of the Lepse floating base) a conference was organized on board the Sibir nuclear icebreaker. The conference was attended by the commissar for the European society for environmental protection issues Ioannis Paleokrassas, the Norwegian environmental minister, and experts of the European Community, including representatives of the European Foundation for Technical Assistance to CIS countries (TACIS) and the European Commission Directorate General XI (DG XI).

Rosatom believes that practical implementation of the project for scrapping Lepse began only in 2010, i.e. from 1994 to 2010 negotiations and agreements were conducted. It should be noted that during this time (1994-2010) around one hundred submarines were scrapped that had been decommissioned from the Northern and Far Eastern fleet, including nuclear-powered submarines with damaged reactors with melted cores. Lepse continued to be moored in the waters of densely-populated Murmansk and waited its turn to be scrapped. It is not clear how scrapping Lepse differs technically from scrapping many nuclear submarines with problematic cores, icebreakers and other such objects, The completion of scrapping Lepse was accompanied by ceremonial speeches and events. Bellona was not present at these events, but many people, including in Rosatom, know and remember Bellona’s role and involvement in this project.

Last fuel unloaded from RBMK-1000 reactor of unit 1 of Kursk NPP ↑

On 21 November 2023, the first stage of preparation was completed for decommissioning unit 1 of the Kursk NPP with a RBMK-1000 reactor: the last spent fuel assembly was removed from the reactor core. Unit 1 of the Kursk NPP was shut down on 19 December 2021, and spent fuel began to be removed in July 2022. Part of the unloaded fuel was sent for “afterburning” to reactors of the operating units 3 and 4 of the Kursk NPP, and the rest will be sent to a stationary storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.

Previously, in 2021 and 2023 at the Leningrad NPP specialists extracted the last fuel assemblies from reactors of units 1 and 2 with RMBK-1000 reactors (the units themselves were shut down after 45 years of operation in 2018 and 2020).

Final shutdown of unit 1 of Kursk NPP with a RMBK-1000 reactor after 45 years of operation on 19 December 2021. Credit: Rosenergoatom

Commentary by Bellona: RMBK reactors of the first generation from the first units of the Leningrad and Kursk NPPs are being gradually shut down after they have completed their resource of 45 years. At present, there is no plan or technologies for decommissioning such uranium-graphite high-capacity reactors. This nuclear legacy of the USSR still remains to be eliminated safely. Reactors of the same type were shut down some time ago at the Chernobyl NPP in Ukraine and at the Ignalina NPP in Lithuania. Bellona experts are observing the process of decommissioning the latter reactor and visited it in 2023. Experience of this work may be useful for all the countries concerned, but during the war in Ukraine cooperation of these countries with Russia is not possible.

We may add that the Russian NPPs with RMBK reactors are the closest ones to Europe, 60-70 km from the borders of Ukraine (Kursk NPP) and Estonia (Leningrad NPP). At these NPPs, operation of the newer units continues, with two RMBK-1000 reactors of the second generation. In early 2023, Rosatom decided to extend their service period by another 5 years to 50 years, as it will not manage to put replacement facilities into operation in time.

Development of the Paks-2 NPP project in Hungary: visit by the head of Rosatom, new suppliers of fuel and delivery routes ↑

On 14 November, Rosatom general director Aleksey Likhachev and the Hungarian minister of foreign affairs and trade Peter Szijjártó visited the construction site of the Paks-2 NPP. At their meeting, the construction schedule was determined for the power units at Paks-2 in the coming years. Szijjártó noted that Paks-2 is an international project, “besides the Russian general contractor, 94 Hungarian companies, and many US, German, French, Swedish and Austrian contractors are involved.”

On 20 November, Vitaly Polyanin was appointed director of the Paks-2 NPP project – the vice-president of the Atomstroiexport company, who was in charge of construction of the Belarussian NPP.

Meanwhile, deputies of the Hungarian national parliament supported an according amendment to the strategy for nuclear energy proposed by the Hungarian government, where it was decided if the need arises to examine possible options for substituting fuel from Russia, which is now the sole supplier for the Paks NPP. For this purpose, a provision was added to national legislation stating that “the nuclear power plant may use new, alternative fuel from another manufacturer, including in the time of the extension of its operation period.”

Speaking at a parliament session, state secretary of the energy ministry Attila Steiner noted that only Rosatom enterprises could currently manufacture fuel assemblies for NPPs, so Hungary was interested in their not being subject to sanctions. At the same time, Stainer confirmed that in accordance with the general policy of the EU, Hungary would strive to diversify deliveries of energy sources, and that this principle also applied to nuclear power. Guided by this approach, the Hungarian Energy Ministry signed a Memorandum on Cooperation with the French corporation Framatome in September for the operation and fuel supply of nuclear power plants.

Historically, all fuel for the Paks NPP has been supplied by Russia. However, the war in Ukraine made changes to the routes of these deliveries. Before the war nuclear fuel was delivered to Ukraine by railway through Ukraine. But after the outbreak of the war, fuel was delivered by air, even after a ban on air transportation for Russian airlines, and then a Black Sea route was agreed on with transit through Romania.

On 8 November, Peter Szijjártó reported after a meeting in Bucharest with Romanian Energy Minister Sebastian Burduja that Hungary would continue to transport nuclear fuel for the Paks NPP through Romanian territory. Fuel is transported by special boat under the guard of military vessels to the Bulgarian port of Varna, where it is loaded on to a train and transported through Bulgaria and Romania to Hungary.

Paks-2 NPP construction site. Credit: Peter Szijjártó’s Facebook page

Commentary by Bellona: Paks-2 remains Rosatom’s sole ongoing project for building an NPP in the EU. The project, despite a delay of at least two years during the war in Ukraine and a number of changes arising from agreements within the EU and solved to a large degree with the assistance of France, is nevertheless moving to the active construction stage. Nevertheless, Hungary, perhaps under pressure from other EU members, is making a number of concessions. Previously, despite statements by Hungarian officials that no sanctions against the Russian nuclear sector were acceptable, Hungary has still agreed on a number of sanctions against Rosatom enterprises (including Atomflot).

The decision of the Hungarian parliament on the possible use of an alternative to Russian fuel at the Paks NPP may be one of these concessions. However, the parliament has only granted the plant the legislative right to select another supplier in future. Whether the NPP operator will make use of this right remains in question.

The post Bellona nuclear digest, November 2023 appeared first on Bellona.org.

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Life-saving antibiotics in jeopardy from growing use in factory-farmed animals

Environmental Working Group - Thu, 12/21/2023 - 09:15
Life-saving antibiotics in jeopardy from growing use in factory-farmed animals rcoleman December 21, 2023

The sale of medically important antibiotics in farm animals grew by 12 percent between 2017 and 2022, further jeopardizing the effectiveness of these life-saving drugs.

The overuse of antibiotics in farm animals makes bacteria more resistant and antibiotics less effective, leading to almost 3 million illnesses and 35,000 deaths a year in the U.S.

But sales of these crucial drugs for use in factory-farmed animals soared from 5.6 million kilograms, or kg, in 2017 to 6.2 million kg in 2022, an Environmental Working Group analysis found. And sales of medically important antibiotics for use on farms grew by 4 percent in 2022 alone, according to the Food and Drug Administration. 

The fastest growing rate of this antibiotic sold for use across animal types was for swine, rising from 2 million kg in 2017 to 2.7 million kg in 2022, up 31 percent.

The amount of these antibiotics – vital for protecting human health – sold for use for cattle also increased, from 2.3 million kg to 2.6 million kg, or by 10 percent. 

By contrast, the amount of medically important antibiotics sold for use in chicken has continued to fall.

Medically important antimicrobial drugs approved for use in food-producing animals actively marketed in 2017-2022

Image

The vast majority of medically important antibiotics are given to animals and not humans. In the U.S., about 70 percent of all medically important antibiotics sold are for animals

Since 2017, the FDA has prohibited the use of antibiotics to help promote animal growth. The agency has required farmers to get a prescription from veterinarians before adding antibiotics to animal feed.

But antibiotics are still widely used to prevent illnesses in animals, even when the animals are healthy. And the FDA is still failing to track how antibiotics are used on the farm. 

The use of antibiotics in farm animals has surged in recent decades as more animals are raised in crowded conditions on factory farms. Sales fell after the FDA prohibited their use to promote animal growth, but have begun to increase again. In particular, experts recently reported that these antibiotics are increasingly going to animals, not people. 

Changing how pigs are raised can significantly reduce the need for antibiotics. Denmark, Europe’s second largest pork producer, changed how barns were set up to give animals more room and better ventilation, and antibiotic use fell by more than 50 percent.

U.S. farmers can implement similar changes, by raising fewer animals in each barn, and providing them with better ventilation. This could greatly reduce the amount of antibiotics given to livestock.

When packaging on conventional meat products claims that animals have been raised without antibiotics, those claims may not actually be true. The only way consumers can know if meat is raised without antibiotics is if farmers start significantly reducing the use of antibiotics in meat production, if the Department of Agriculture cracks down on food packaging claims, or if consumers buy organic meat raised without antibiotics.

The USDA has pledged to update how antibiotic-free meat product claims are regulated. Until then, consumers worried about preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics should choose organic, which prohibits the use of antibiotics in animal production, or consider a plant-based alternative.

Areas of Focus Farming & Agriculture Meat and Dairy Alternatives Factory Farms Farm Pollution Family Health Children’s Health Disqus Comments Authors Scott Faber Anne Schechinger December 21, 2023
Categories: G1. Progressive Green

New Biofuelwatch briefing exposes Tuzla power plant’s planned biomass unit as a dead end

Biofuel Watch - Thu, 12/21/2023 - 08:11
A new briefing by Biofuelwatch, launched today, has revealed that the planned use of biomass energy crops in a new unit at the Tuzla coal power plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina is an unfeasible and environmentally risky endeavour.

21st December 2023

The briefing is available in English (https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2023/src-west-balkan-briefing) and in Western Balkan languages (https://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2023/src-izvjestaj-za-zapadni-balkan/).

Despite a September 2022 agreement by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and energy utility Elektroprivreda BiH to pursue the construction of a new biomass unit at the Tuzla power plant [1], the proposal to burn willow biomass is shrouded in uncertainty.

Notably, the EBRD feasibility study for the project has not been completed even a year after its initiation, and according to the draft National Energy and Climate Plan for BiH [2], the proposed biomass capacity has been halved from 100 MW to 50 MW.

As per EPBiH’s official statements [3], in an effort to overcome limitations on available biomass, the Tuzla power plant plans to rely heavily on fast-growing willow plantations primarily grown on former open-cast coal mines, supplemented by additional Short Rotation Coppicing (SRC) willow from farmers when necessary.

However, Biofuelwatch’s analysis highlights that SRC willow plantations have not been successful in Europe despite decades of effort. Economic challenges that farmers face and their inability to recoup investments, even with subsidies, raise concerns about the long-term sustainability of large-scale SRC plantations.

Alarmingly, the proposed 50 MWe biomass unit in Tuzla would require an estimated 29,000 hectares of land, more than double the size of Sarajevo, based on the average yield of SRC willow on farmland stated by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Additionally, SRC willow’s high water requirements make it far from drought-resistant. Failed SRC willow trials in Šićki Brod [4] further underline the challenges associated with implementing such projects.

Denis Zisko, Aarhus Centre BiH: ‘We lost 15 years listening to fairy tales about new coal power plants. Now the BiH authorities and Elektroprivreda BiH have created a new fairytale about biomass that could cost us another 15 years. It is time for our authorities to get their act together, admit that there is no future in burning stuff to produce energy, and finally start working on sustainable renewable solutions based on solar, wind, and geothermal energy combined with energy efficiency measures and energy storage solutions.’

Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch: ‘Our research clearly shows that short-rotation coppicing, regardless of whether it is done on former coal mine surface or on farmland, cannot realistically meet more than a tiny fraction of the biomass demand of one or more, let alone the biomass plants proposed by EPBiH. Inevitably, most of the biomass will have to come from forests, which is deeply alarming in a region where illegal logging is widespread and forest degradation rampant.’

Natasa Kovacevic, CEE Bankwatch Network: ‘Even without considering the environmental impact of burning energy crops, the lack of credible success stories and the challenges of growing willow in short rotations on former coal mine sites raises serious doubts about the feasibility of this transition. We urge the EBRD and the EPBiH to halt the wasteful expenditure of time and money on this absurd project of replacing the Tuzla 3 unit with a biomass plant.’

The groups call for the funds to be redirected towards using geothermal energy for district heating needs and developing thermal energy storage in salt mines and advise authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to capitalize on the increasing opportunities for assistance in developing district heating modernization projects.

For instance, the EIB’s JASPERS programme has pledged to triple its technical assistance for investment preparation and project implementation in the next six years, while grants and loans available through the Western Balkans Growth Plan can be utilized to invest in clean heating systems [6].

Notes for editors:

[1] EBRD to back Bosnia’s Tuzla TPP project with 50 mln euro loan: https://seenews.com/news/ebrd-to-back-bosnias-tuzla-tpp-project-with-50-mln-euro-loan-797457

[2] http://www.mvteo.gov.ba/data/Home/Dokumenti/Energetika/Nacrt_NECP_BiH_loc.pdf

[3] BiH to convert Tuzla coal unit to biomass (50 MW) by 2030 https://www.energetika.net/eu/novice/ecology/bih-to-convert-tuzla-coal-unit-to-biomass-50-mw-by-2030

[4] Video: https://youtu.be/90lR2mDPayY

[5] EIB and European Commission to triple advisory support for the Western Balkans under the JASPERS programme https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2023-412-eib-and-european-commission-to-triple-advisory-support-for-the-western-balkans-under-the-jaspers-programme

[6] 2023 Regulation proposal Reform and Growth Facility Western Balkans https://neighbourhood-enlargement.ec.europa.eu/2023-regulation-proposal-reform-and-growth-facility-western-balkans_en

 

 

Categories: G1. Progressive Green

Pages

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.