Salt on the roads: Good for safety, bad for environment
By Sandy Bauers
Over the last 60 years - pretty much since regular use of sodium chloride on roads began - the annual average sodium concentration in the Delaware River has nearly tripled and chloride has increased fivefold, researchers have found. Because the department, like many others, can switch intakes and mix in water with lower salinity, the final product contains lower levels, said Chris Crockett, director of planning and research.
If current trends continue in the coming decades, however, experts say that aquatic life will suffer and water supplies could be threatened. Sodium is a concern for people with medical conditions such as hypertension.
"This cannot go on indefinitely. It is not sustainable," said Jonathan Husch, chair of Rider University's department of geological, environmental and marine sciences, which has been researching salt issues locally.
Unlike the pollutants that are typically removed by water-treatment plants, getting the salt out can require entirely different technologies such as reverse osmosis.
Eventually, said Crockett, governments may need to decide on which end of the process to spend precious public funds: more environmentally friendly deicers for the roads or new treatments for the water. Both cost more.
Officials - especially those in more northern areas - have been aware of the problems with salt for more than a decade. But it's only been in the last few years, with increased public focus on the environment, that significant innovations have emerged.
Highway crews in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have been spraying ahead of time with a salty brine solution. The liquid - look for the stripes down the lanes before a storm - stays on a bare road better than salt, it delays the formation of ice and, when salt is spread later, it speeds melting.
In 1940, an estimated 149,000 tons of rock salt were sold in the United States for highway use. Now, we're up to about 18 million tons in a bad winter.
Meanwhile, study after study has found that from the Great Lakes to mountain streams, salinity in water bodies has been rising. In isolated cases, municipal water wells have had to be shut down because of contamination from road salt.
Wetlands have been affected. Salt-tolerant species have become more common along highways with high salt use.
In 2009, a U.S. Geological Survey study found that 40 percent of streams in and around Northern U.S. cities underlain by certain kinds of aquifers had salt levels high enough to damage aquatic life.
Earlier this year, USGS researcher Steve Corsi and others collected water fleas and flathead minnows in streams around Milwaukee. They found that during winter deicing, water in more than half the streams sampled was toxic to the organisms or affected their growth and reproduction.
Eventually, salt can change not only a stream's plants and aquatic organisms, but its entire ecosystem, said Philadelphia's Crockett. "You go from things that are not tolerant of a salty environment to things that can handle that kind of shock."
Spreaders have been reengineered and recalibrated to reduce overshoot and to keep the salt from bouncing onto the shoulder.
In some cases, workers can clean the same amount of snow with half the salt that they once used.
Officials employ elaborate calculations to project nuances of temperature and precipitation as storms approach and intensify.
This year, PennDot is piloting a sophisticated storm-fighting computer system - with touch screens in the trucks - that helped Indiana reduce salt use by a third. Using radar, it forecasts road conditions and fine-tunes how much salt should be spread.
Manufacturers are coming out with new deicers, including one made from beet juice. Transportation officials in Maryland, New York, and Chicago are trying it.
Marketed under brand names such as GeoMelt and IceBite, it is less corrosive for bridges and cars - another issue surrounding salt. Also unlike salt, it doesn't cause potholes.
This, like many other salt "alternatives," is really just an additive. It helps a brine solution stay put and enhances the melting effect.
But some have complained that the beet juice stains and stinks like rotting vegetables. It has unwanted environmental effects, too. Bacteria that break down the organic chemical consume oxygen - and low oxygen levels are another problem in many urban streams.
And a Madison, Wis., study found that substituting the beet product for the salt brine it used in 2008-09 would have cost more than 10 times as much.
So good old road salt is still the cheapest thing going and the primary deicer. Although anything that melts in water will lower its freezing temperature, no other broadscale substitutes have taken hold.
Natick approves zoning change for clean energy businesses
This is an article from the Metro West Daily News about Natick approving changes to its zoning codes.
As part of the Green Communities Act, we are advocating for Arlington to adopt the zoning stretch codes. Marc Breslow will be presenting to the Arlington Board of Selectmen on Dec. 14th.
Stay tuned for more details.
New Links to East Arlington Liveable Streets website and rss feed have been added to the site.
I've added a link to their website in the "Links" section of our site under "Town of Arlington Websites".
I've also added a link to their rss feed in the "newsfeeds" section of the website" under the "Other Local Organizations" category.
We should do the same for other local related organizations as well.
At our last SA meeting there were quite a few stories about the uselessness of the NSTAR energy audits. I had one done about a year ago and was told that my house was pretty tight. I was skeptical because it seemed unlikely that the previous owner had done much to update the insulation and seal leaks and I was really ezpecting to be told that there were lots of things I could do to tighten things up. When Jeremy Marin from the A-HEET program came over to do an audit to evaluate my house to see if it was a good fit, I found out just how bad the NSTAR audit really was.
Jeremy spent the better part of 2 hours looking at both the exterior and interior problems and found that there were lots of leaks and things that needed to be addressed. The basement had lots of issues including gaps around the windows and especially around the foundation where it meets the first floor. There were gaps around the water spickets that had never been filled with caulk and lots of places where cold air could get up to the first floor living space. The forced hot air ducts had lots of leakage at the joints between sections and the hot water pipes weren't insulated either.
Jeremy thought the house was a good project for A-HEET and scheduled a blower door test. This revealed lots of additional opportunities to do air sealing on the first and second floors of the living space. One big source of cold air is the crawl space on the second floor. In addition to needing more insulation, there was no insulation under the plywood floor in the crawlspace and there was a big hole that openned directly into the roof allowing cold air to get into the crawlspace and then into the living space.
We're making plans to schedule the A-HEET event and I will be posting updates here to document what was done and how much improvement we are able to make.
UPDATE - 1-7-2010:
Jeremy arrange for a blower door test and it revealed lots of leaks that could be plugged. It took less than an hour to go through the house and identify all of the leaks. It is amazing how much different this was from the NSTAR energy audit. This really highlights how important it is to get a "real" audit complete with the blower door test.
The date has been set - Saturday, January 16th from 9am - 1pm. The materials are in the process of being purchased and collected. Jeremy will be doing some prep work in the crawl spaces a few days before the actual event.
UPDATE - 1-13-2010..
We're getting close now. Jeremy came over this morning to do some prep work in the crawl spaces. We decided that the insulation that was in the crawl space was adequate for now. I will wait until the spring and add some rigid foam insulation on the wall to the living space at that point. There was also some dampness that I'm going to look into (hopefully not a big roofing job) and also look into having some isonene blown into the space between the floor of the crawlspace and the ceiling to the living room.
All the materials have been purchased and I'm now preparing to get the food for the event lined up.
In order to get at the crawl apace I had to remove all of the boxes and bags that were in storage there which created the perfect opportunity to toss a bunch of old stuff! It's amazing how much stuff gets accumulated over the years.
UPDATE - Jan.22nd, 2010
The event was very successful. 31 volunteers showed up between 8 and 9am. They broke into teams and attacked all of the items that Jeremy had identified during the walk through and blower-door test. A team headed for the basement to tackle the leaky windows and doors, filling the gap around my foundation, wrapping the heating ducts, caulking the holes around pipes and the chimney. Another team headed up to the second floor to attack the crawlspace to add insultaion and to seal all of the doors to the crawl and closet spaces. Another team went to work putting gaskets behind all of the outlets and caulking around the bathroom vent. After 4 hours of work the moment of truth came - the final blower-door test. The baseline from the first test was 3100 CFM. After all the work was done the result was 2160, a reduction of 940 CFM or about 30%.
You can read more about the event and about A-HEET in an article posted by Bob Sprague on YourArlington.Com.
I purchased a new tool for creating templates and had to try it out on our website. I built the new template around our logo but wanted to crate a template that would be lighter in feel and add a dropdown top menu. I hope you like the new look and feel. I'll be making some adjustments to the menus and organization of things.
Climate Change News
Mar 20, 2018 | 06:27 am
Plan would hamstring agency’s mission, environmental advocates warn. In a closed-door meeting at the Heritage Foundation on Monday, Pruitt told a group of conservatives that he has plans for additional science reform at the agency, according to multiple attendees. EPA hasn’t formally shared details of the plan, but it’s widely expected to resemble an effort that Republican lawmakers and conservative groups have been pushing for years. It’s been met with staunch resistance from Democrats and many scientists. The plan could come “sooner rather than later, ” said Steve Milloy, who served on Trump’s EPA transition team and attended the meeting at the Heritage Foundation. EPA did not respond to a request for comment. And Milloy cautioned that he did not know the specifics of the plan and said he was not authorized to discuss the meeting. The initiative is expected to require EPA—when issuing rules—to rely only on scientific studies where the underlying data are made public. It’s an idea that House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has been championing for years. He and others argue that EPA has been crafting regulations based on “secret science ” to advance its regulatory agenda. Smith, one of the leading opponents of mainstream climate science in Congress, has repeatedly accused federal climate scientists of engaging in a massive conspiracy to falsify climate data. And he has repeatedly introduced bills that would require EPA to publicize data it uses when crafting regulations. Those efforts died when President Obama was in the[…]Read more...
Climate Change News
Mar 20, 2018 | 06:07 am
Lithium could be a lifeline for oil majors as the energy industry shifts toward lower-polluting alternatives to fossil fuels, said Jeff McDermott of Greentech Capital Advisors LLC. “Their specialty is resource extraction,” McDermott, managing partner of the New York-based boutique investment bank advising energy companies and investors, said in an interview in London. “They should buy lithium miners, get involved in the upstream of core battery technology.” This suggestion marks out one solution to the existential question some of the world’s biggest energy companies are facing about how to survive as governments clamp down on the fuels they produce. As the curbs on carbon emissions tighten, a key issue for fossil fuel producers are how much oil and gas demand is at risk. Lithium is a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries that are prevalent in electronics from mobile phones to electric cars. The metal is part of the cathode, which houses the electric charge. Demand for the mineral is projected to rise 38-fold by 2030 to 7,845 metric tons per year from 200 metric tons in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Big oil companies have the capital to deploy and expertise in developing large projects that could help the lithium industry expand. Oil majors have been dabbling in clean energy for decades, but it doesn’t make up a significant percent of any of their businesses. This is beginning to change, with the industry seeking new revenue streams and to keep themselves at the center of the energy business.[…]Read more...
- Climate Change News Mar 20, 2018 | 05:59 am Read more...
Climate Change News
Mar 19, 2018 | 21:36 pm
Human-caused climate change will drive more extreme summer heat waves in the western U.S., including in California and the Southwest as early as 2020, new research shows. The new analysis of heat wave patterns across the U.S., led by scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM) based Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) and colleagues, also found that human-made climate change will be a dominant driver for heat wave occurrences in the Great Lakes region by 2030, and in the Northern and Southern Plains by 2050 and 2070, respectively. Human-made climate change is the result of increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. "These are the years that the human contributions to climate change will become as important as natural variability in causing heat waves," said lead author Hosmay Lopez, a CIMAS meteorologist based at NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic Meteorological Laboratory. "Without human influence, half of the extreme heat waves projected to occur during this century wouldn't happen." Read more at Human Influence on Climate Change Will Fuel More Extreme Heat Waves in USRead more...
Climate Change News
Mar 19, 2018 | 21:29 pm
The first ever Global Green Finance Index was launched by Z/Yen and Finance Watch last week, and the financial centers of Western Europe outperformed those in other regions based on the perception of the quality and depth of their green finance offerings. The Global Green Finance Index (GGFI) was created in an effort to “chart the progress of the world’s financial centers towards a financial system that delivers sustainable development, and values people and the planet as much as profit.” Created by NGO Finance Watch and commercial think-tank Z/Yen, the GGFI ranks the world’s leading financial centers based on a worldwide survey of finance professionals’ views “on the quality and depth of green finance offerings across 108 international financial centres.” “The core of the GGFI is a perception survey which observes and promotes change where it matters most — in people’s minds,” explained Professor Michael Mainelli, Executive Chairman of Z/Yen. “The more we can get people talking about a sustainable transition, the quicker it will happen. The high level of interest in GGFI 1 is a step in that direction.” “The GGFI aims to contribute to the definition of green finance and identify best practices and areas for improvement,” added Benoît Lallemand, Secretary General of Finance Watch. “We hope it will promote bold policy initiatives and high-quality financing that can cut through greenwash. It is urgent that sustainable finance becomes mainstream in all financial centers.” According to this inaugural edition of the GGFI — GGFI 1 — the top five centers[…]Read more...
Climate Change News
Mar 19, 2018 | 21:19 pm
India is the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Pakistan, the Philippines, and Bangladesh, a ranking by HSBC showed on Monday. The bank assessed 67 developed, emerging and frontier markets on vulnerability to the physical impacts of climate change, sensitivity to extreme weather events, exposure to energy transition risks and ability to respond to climate change. The 67 nations represent almost a third of the world’s nation states, 80 percent of the global population and 94 percent of global gross domestic product. HSBC averaged the scores in each area for the countries in order to reach the overall ranking. Some countries were highly vulnerable in some areas but less so in others. Of the four nations assessed by HSBC to be most vulnerable, India has said climate change could cut agricultural incomes, particularly unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall. Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines are susceptible to extreme weather events, such as storms and flooding. Pakistan was ranked by HSBC among nations least well-equipped to respond to climate risks. South and southeast Asian countries accounted for half of the 10 most vulnerable countries. Oman, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya, and South Africa are also in this group. The five countries least vulnerable to climate change risk are Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, and New Zealand. Read more at India Most Vulnerable Country to Climate Change - HSBC ReportRead more...
Climate Change News
Mar 19, 2018 | 06:00 am
The Tesla Supercharger network is still one of the top reasons electric car buyers are convinced to buy a Tesla rather than another company’s electric car. The network was a critical competitive advantage we identified years ago when surveying EV drivers and potential EV drivers, and it seems to be referenced every day in comments on CleanTechnica as a core competitive advantage for the Silicon Valley EV & clean energy giant. We are finally seeing superfast/ultrafast charging stations rise up in non-Tesla charging networks, and hey, one day we’ll have a non-Tesla electric car on the market that can charge at 100 kW or more. But rolling out vast superfast/ultrafast charging stations takes time, and a lot of money....This is where the Supercharger network is today: Read more at Evolution of the Tesla Supercharger NetworkRead more...
Climate Change News
Mar 19, 2018 | 05:00 am
The Motley Fool has been advising investors on How to Profit From the Re-Emergence of Canada’s Crude-by-Rail Strategy. But what makes transporting Canadian crude oil by rail attractive to investors? According to the Motley Fool, the reason is “… right now, there is so much excess oil being pumped out of Canada’s oil sands that the pipelines simply don’t have the capacity to handle it all.” The International Energy Agency recently reached the same conclusion in its Oil 2018 market report. “Crude by rail exports are likely to enjoy a renaissance, growing from their current 150,000 bpd [barrels per day] to an implied 250,000 bpd on average in 2018 and to 390,000 bpd in 2019. At their peak in 2019, rail exports of crude oil could be as high as 590,000 bpd — though this calculation assumes producers do not resort to crude storage in peak months,” the International Energy Agency said, as reported by the 7....And Canada has plenty of capacity to load oil on more trains, which means if a producer is willing to pay the premium to move oil by rail, it can find a customer to do it. The infrastructure is in place to load approximately 1.2 million barrels per day. With the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline project, which would have moved western Canada's tar sands east to Quebec and New Brunswick, the industry now is pursuing two remaining major pipeline projects: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and the Keystone XL. The Financial Post reported[…]Read more...
Climate Change News
Mar 19, 2018 | 04:10 am
In proportion to its population, the Nordic region—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden—is strikingly ahead of the rest of the world in adopting electric cars. With almost 250,000 electric cars at the end of 2017, the five countries account for roughly 8% of the total number of electric cars around the world. Norway, Iceland, and Sweden have the highest ratios of EVs per person, globally. Further, the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the Nordic region is projected to reach 4 million cars by 2030—more than 15 times the number currently in circulation, according to the International Energy Agency’s Nordic EV Outlook 2018 (NEVO 2018). The report outlines the key factors contributing to successful developments and identifies key lessons to be learned, providing insights for countries currently developing their electric mobility strategies. The Nordic countries represent the third-largest electric-car market by sales, after China and the United States. Norway leads the way with a 39% market share of electric car sales—the highest globally. Sweden has more than 49,000 electric cars in circulation and accounts for 20% of the total Nordic stock. This remarkable growth has been driven by strong policy support and ambitious decarbonization goals, putting the region at the forefront of the transition to electric mobility. In this context, IEA intends for Nordic EV Outlook 2018 to provide a useful benchmark and to highlight a series of best practices—and hurdles to avoid—for countries around the world.Policy support has significantly influenced electric-car adoption across these countries, the main driver being[…]Read more...
- Climate Change News Mar 19, 2018 | 03:50 am Read more...