The City of Chicago has implemented a plastic bag tax in all grocery stores. Since February of this year, all grocery stores has been charging their customers $0.07 for each bag they use from them. The city will receive 5 cents and the retailers will get back 2 cents for each bag sold. In order to not to be taxed, customers would have to leave the store without one and carry their items out by hand or bring their own bags. This was bag tax ban was implemented in hopes of limiting the use of plastic bags that would usually just end up filling landfills and dumpsters. Is this tax working? Most people wont see this as an issue. Its a painless charge and people are willing to spend the extra few cents because its more convenient for them. The only other way I could think that would encourage others to bring their own bags is if we cut out all plastic bags completely. This isn’t the only tax the city has enforced. The water bottle tax is also in place for the same reasons, limit landfill waste.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned about pollution in the Pilsen neighborhood area due to emission from by H Kramer & co. Their have been community concerns that the corporation has been violating the Clean Air Act and State Air pollution violations at firms brass smelting foundry in the Pilsen area.
To resolve this issue the EPA have required parametric monitoring to ensure that lead pollution control devices, pulse jet bag house filters, and High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters operate effectively. Ambient air monitors have been installed in the community although they are not required.
The use of parametric monitoring would be beneficial to communities in measuring the monthly ambient air quality in the community. This will help companies become mindful of the amount of emissions they put in the air, thus making them follow air quality regulations. This will also be beneficial to residents as they will know the air quality of the community they live in.
For future community issues the city government should first address the public through the media in letting the entire community know about the issues in their community. Next, the government should engage with that community about possible solutions to mitigate the problem. Lastly, they should resolve the issues in such away that doesn’t further harm the community or its surrounding environment.
On October 5th, members of the UN met in Paris to discuss global warming and how we can hold our citizens accountable for fixing the environment they have taken advantage of. The first session of the Conference involving the Parties who agreed to the Paris Agreement took place in Marrakech, Morocco from 15-18 November 2016. Over 170 countries signed this agreement. According to the UNFCC , the agreements central focus is to strengthen the global recognition of the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen and expedite the ability of countries response to the impacts of climate change. “To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework”.
After the recent election, many countries are worried that the US will not stick to their agreement. President Trump, unfortunately, does not see these environmental issues as a priority of his presidency and this makes many feel hopeless.
Although, Many urban cities aim to use the treaty as inspiration to better their city into a more sustainable area. “Urban areas are at the center of converging global frameworks, not only the Paris Agreement on climate change but also the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in September 2015, and the New Urban Agenda, adopted last month in Quito, Ecuador, at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – or Habitat III.” Other cities like those in Morroco and Ecuador are finding natural ways to develop their urban cities. If this movement continues to expand, with hopes that the US takes part, the Paris Treaty can really move the world towards sustainability.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second left), UNFCCC”s Christiana Figueres (left), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and the president of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), and President François Hollande of France (right) celebrate the historic adoption of Paris Agreement. Photo: UNFCCC
Ten things you need to know about the Paris Treaty
In 2003 the Healthy Forests Initiative Act, originally proposed by George W. Bush, was set into law after the widespread forests fires of 2002 kept taking place. According to SierraForestryLegacy.org, the primary effect of this act was to decrease public involvement, reduce environmental protection, and increase access to National forests and other lands (federal) for timber companies. The site notes that these proposals allowed the timber industry more free reign than to enact the proposed benefits to fuels reduction efforts on National Forests. The site also notes that it was assumed that the initiative was based on a false assumption that logging would decrease forests fires which general scientific consensus proved that the logging increased the fires. It was thought that by allowing the timber companies to log that it would thin out overstocked stands, and clearing away vegetation would lessen the effects of fires. There was major opposition to this act and many argued that the fires allowed for the forest to clear out dead and older trees to let saplings grow in its place on their own- that the intervention from humans would disturb natural processes. The issue of frequent forest fires was the reason this act was set into place. The act has had great opposition and has not been productive in terms of creating healthy forests. The whole premise of this act was to clear out trees and prevent fires by giving more power to timber companies which actively destroyed federal lands and nationally protected forests. This initiative would have been successful if taken in a different direction.
The Sustainable Practices Policy for the University of California campuses establishes goals in nine areas of sustainable practices: green building, clean energy, transportation, climate protection, sustainable operations, waste reduction and recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, sustainable foodservice, and sustainable water systems. As noted in the policy document, the University’s locations should be “living laboratories for sustainability, contributing to the research and educational mission of the University, consistent with available funding and safe operational practices” (University of California). In light of climate change and water security crises extremely relevant to the west coast of the United States, this set of policy regulations for the Universities of California is their action towards the commitment of sustainable business practices and the responsible stewardship of resources.
As a relatively new set of sustainable regulations, deemed effective in September 2016, it is difficult to analyze the policies’ action and effectiveness. Although many of the practices mandated within the Sustainable Practices Policy include tried and true methods of enhancing and ensuring more sustainable practices; for example, requiring building and maintenance to comply with popular LEED standards, using automobiles at LEV program standards, and enhancing the use of renewable, energy sources such as wind, solar, and biomass.
California, as an important leader in environmental policy and regulation in the United States, has the capacity to hold the University of California accountable for its proposed standards of sustainable practices. With the federal EPA possibly succumbing to reductions in power and authority, California may have less national supervision and enforcement of said regulations and policies. Even though, the state of California has historically been an autonomous figure in regards to social and environmental progress over the years.
 University of California – Policy Sustainable Practices
India has implemented its own Wildlife Protection Act in 1972, which was passed in order to protect wildlife and their environments. This was a major step for the nation, as it ordered the protection of national parks and sanctuaries, protected some endangered plant species, and established punishments for offenders. However, the law was recently amended in 2002 to include the protection of fish and crustaceans, as well as to strengthen regulations that would make it more difficult to alter the borders of protected areas. Although the Wildlife Protection Act was established to lower and stabilize wildlife crime, it has only been on a rise due to the rapid urbanization of India. Illegal hunting (particularly of tigers), deforestation, and mass fishing has continue to be an increasing issue in the nation of India and there is very little that can be done for the conservation of wildlife as long as the pattern of India’s uncontrolled rapid urbanization continues. The “Environmental Laws of India” website states that there is not much the government can do to regulate wildlife conservation without the help from individual citizens, but how is that possible when there are not enough resources placed into growing, impoverished communities?
In the early 1900s, the United States officially began regulating the use of pesticides and other chemicals on crops in the US. They did this through what was named then the Insecticide Act of 1910 and has become known in later years as the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). This legislation came about with the hope of protecting the health of consumers as well as protecting the environment. A revision came about in the wake of World War II as many new chemicals were developed during this time. More of these chemicals were being used to kill pests on crops, chemicals that were not yet covered in these regulations. Prior to the 1970s, Congress was in charge of the act and the rules and regulations that were a part of it, but in 1972 they transferred control of this legislation to the US Environmental Protection Agency. This legislation established four key things in hopes of improving the health of consumers and the environment. FIrst it requires the registration with the EPA of any pesticide being used. This is to document the amounts and the effects of every chemical used on crops. Second, the EPA has whitelisted the list of usable pesticides. This means that they have selected only those that they believe to be the safest and farmers are only allowed to use chemicals from their list. Thirdly, the EPA created a new application process in order for a pesticide to be added to their list. This ensures that chemicals and their effects are thoroughly tested before they are used on consumer products. Finally, the regulation allows for the EPA to monitor and control not only which pesticides can be used but how they are used. It is important that this is done from a central authority so that no one farm is causing more harm to their product or the environment than another. I think that it is definitely good for chemicals to be regulated as adding too many pesticides in our food production can have terrible health impacts and these chemicals can also taint water supplies. We need people who know what they are doing to make sure that the food we eat is safe. Farmers who do not adhere to the regulations set forth by FIFRA are responsible for any harm caused by their crop. FIFRA is an important piece of legislation that is keeping consumers and the environment safe.
Blog Assignment 4
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act is an environmental policy in the United states that is designed to reduce the risk of disease to users of the nation’s coastal recreation waters. The act authorizes the EPA to award program development and implementation grants to eligible states, territories, tribes, and local governments to support microbiological testing and monitoring of coastal recreational waters. The waters the program works with includes coastal recreational waters, the Great lakes and waters adjacent to beaches or similar points used by the public. The purpose of the BEACH Act is to provide support for developing programs to notify the public of the potential exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in the waters. The act also requires an online system that the program must provide information to the public with; information on pollution occurrences for the waters and state reported beach monitoring data (EPA BEACH Act). I believe the online system is very helpful for informing the residents on when it is unsafe to use or enter the water in their area.
According to EPA’s BEACH Report of Hawaii 2010 Swimming Season, close to all of Hawaii’s coastal waters are considered “beaches” including cliffs, rocky shorelines, or sandy stretches of coastline. So a majority of Hawaii’s coastal waters are monitored through programs that focus on frequency of sampling. But recent budget cuts to the Hawaii Department of Health have drastically affected the monitoring of Oahu Hawaii beaches in particular. The monitoring section lost five employees on the island. After the staffing reduction, certain beaches were not being sampled as often. The island of Oahu went from being monitored and sampled 3 times a week to twice a month. The results of the decrease in monitoring resulted in lowered report actions; less than 1 percent of the time (EPA’s BEACH Report Hawaii). Increases in funding for the programs can get the monitoring and sampling of coastal recreation waters done more frequently. The specific island of Oahu that had funding cut for their program could advocate for other resources such as grants and private funding. I think that is something that would get staff back and increase the awareness of pollution occurrences.
“Summary of the Beach Act” Laws and Regulations formed by the EPA
“EPA’s BEACH Report: Hawaii 2010 Swimming Season” composed by the EPA
The high volume hydraulic fracturing technique “fracking” has triggered health concerns and harsh environmental impacts. The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) made changes in the existing database of registered chemicals to help to improve the search of information on registered substances used for the purposes of fracking. Chemicals known to be used in fracking have into water supplies.
Chemicals used in fracking: Benzene, Lead, Mercury, and Uranium
Most chemicals used in fracking are not detectable by the human eye, and oftentimes can not be detected by smell or tastes.
The commission wants to ensure that the risks of individual projects are controlled to have limited impacts on the environment in states that wish to exploit such resources. Member states are required to follow a set of minimum principles when applying their legislation to production using fracking.
The EU existing legislation covers issues such as: planning, underground risk assessments, well integrity, baseline reporting and operational monitoring, capture of methane emissions, and disclosure of chemicals used in each well. The commission has inserted review clause to assess the effectiveness of this approach. The network has collected information on unconventional oil and gas in the EU which will help technology emerge in order for well stimulation.
In recent years, the United Kingdom has strengthened their water regulations. Their standards follow strict requirements with the EU Drinking Water Directive. To ensure water quality, it’s mandatory for “monitoring and analysis, public reporting of data, use of treatment chemicals and materials in contact with water, and action that must be taken if a standard is exceeded” (Drinking Water Quality, water.uk). For the UK, it was put into law for Northern Ireland in 2007, Scotland in 2014, England and Wales in 2016. Their strict regulations as of 2016 have resulted in 99.83%-99.96% drinking water quality compliance among the four.
If water companies don’t meet regulations or endanger the public, then they will be met with consequences. Thames Water is “UK’s largest water and wastewater services company”. They are responsible for water supply for people across London and Thames Valley. Also, they are responsible for the treatment of water waste (Thames Water). In March of this year, they were fined £20,361,140.06, which is 25496219.58 in US dollars. “These offences were caused by negligence and led to the death of wildlife and distress to the public.” that had dated back to 2012. They “fail[ed] to react adequately to thousands of high priority alarms used to alert them to the serious problems. This wasn’t the first time they were fined. In 2015, they were fined £250,000 or $313050 for polluting a nature reserve. This amount wasn’t much to them, but with the most recent fine, I believe that it will cause them to make sure that they’re making the right decisions when it comes to people’s safety.