Thursday, May 1, 2014

Environmental News Notes 2

More stuff from around the internet that I think is interesting ...

  • American apples have been banned in Europe. The European Food Safety Authority is concerned about the safety of the breakdown products of diphenylamine, or DPA, a compound used to prevent brown spots. After requesting industry to come up with more information, only one study was generated. As a response, the EFSA banned use of DPA on apples in 2012, and in March 2014, the agency dropped the tolerable level of DPA on imported apples to 0.1 parts per million (ppm). The EPA allows up to 10 ppm of DPA residue. 
  • On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal regulation requiring some states to limit pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states, reversing a lower court ruling. By a 6-2 vote, the court said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted reasonably in requiring 28 states to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from coal-fired power plants. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas both dissented - and in his dissent, Scalia screwed up ...
    “This is not the first time EPA has sought to convert the Clean Air Act into a mandate for cost-effective regulation. Whitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 531 U. S. 457 (2001), confronted EPA’s contention that it could consider costs in setting [National Ambient Air Quality Standards],” Scalia writes in his dissent. But as Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur notes, Scalia’s gotten the earlier case almost completely backward. “The EPA’s position in 2001,” writes Kapur, “was exactly the opposite.” In that case, the EPA was defending its right to not use cost concerns as a counter to health effects when writing certain air quality standards. The EPA won that case unanimously, with all nine justices taking its side. And the author of the opinion for the court on that case was none other than Scalia himself.
    “Scalia’s dissent … contains a hugely embarrassing mistake,” wrote University of California-Berkeley law professor Dan Farber. “He refers to the Court’s earlier decision in American Trucking as involving an effort by EPA to smuggle cost considerations into the statute. But that’s exactly backwards: it was industry that argued for cost considerations and EPA that resisted.”
    Farber continued, writing, “Either some law clerk made the mistake and Scalia failed to read his own dissent carefully enough, or he simply forgot the basics of the earlier case and his clerks failed to correct him. Either way, it’s a cringeworthy blunder.” […]

  • WIPP (the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) conducted a re-entry on April 30th. Last week entry teams confirmed that Room 7 was the source of the radiological event and determined contamination levels, though they were unable to determine a cause for the release.Yesterday, teams entered the WIPP underground facility to conduct additional investigations in Room 7 of Panel 7. Teams were able to stay in the underground facility longer than they did last week. Cameras with telescopic extensions allowed for better visibility deeper into the room as workers aim to get visuals that will help determine the exact location of the radiation event. 


  1. I hadn't heard about the apple thing!!! I don't know enough about DPA....

    1. It was a new one on me too. There isn't nearly enough known about the breakdown products of DPA.


Hi! I do read all of the comments and want to let you know that I really appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to leave a note. Work has fallen in on me and I have not had enough time to reply coherently lately so I apologize preemptively but still want to assure you that your comments are valued. I am using comment moderation to avoid using more annoying spam avoidance. Thanks for your patience.