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Report: Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers Flooded in Sandy Lived Outside FEMA Flood Zones

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Report: Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers Flooded in Sandy Lived Outside FEMA Flood Zones
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps for New York City did not identify that nearly 65 percent of the area inundated during Hurricane Sandy—home to nearly 300,000 people—was at risk from coastal flooding, according to a new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report tallies the human toll and impact to critical infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

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NRDC Report: Potentially Unsafe Chemicals in Food Threaten Public Health

April 9, 2014 Comments off

NRDC Report: Potentially Unsafe Chemicals in Food Threaten Public Health
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Federal protections to keep potentially unsafe chemicals out of our foods are woefully inadequate and may be putting the health of Americans at risk, a Natural Resources Defense Council investigation found.

The food safety protection system is marred by minimal supervision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, rife with apparent conflicts of interest in safety evaluations, and rendered all but toothless by a gaping loophole that allows companies to simply declare as safe hundreds of chemicals added to our foods—without any notification to the FDA or the public, according to an NRDC report released today.

Newly Disclosed Documents Show FDA Allows Livestock Antibiotics Use Despite “High Risk” to Humans

January 29, 2014 Comments off

Newly Disclosed Documents Show FDA Allows Livestock Antibiotics Use Despite “High Risk” to Humans
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly allowed 30 potentially harmful antibiotics, including 18 rated as “high risk,” to remain on the market as additives in farm animal feed and water – despite an internal review that raised significant red flags, according to agency records obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The data show the use of these drugs in livestock likely exposes humans to antibiotic resistant bacteria through the food supply. FDA’s scientific reviews of these antibiotics occurred between 2001 and 2010, yet the drugs remain approved and, in many cases, on the market for use in industrial animal agriculture operations.

The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America

September 19, 2013 Comments off

The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic

Here’s a superbly-kept secret: All those dates on food products — sell by, use by, best before — almost none of those dates indicate the safety of food, and generally speaking, they’re not regulated in the way many people believe. The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.

U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America’s dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified. Forty percent of the food we produce in this country never gets eaten. That’s nearly half our food, wasted — not just on our plates, but in our refrigerators and pantries, in our grocery stores and on our farms. Much of it perfectly good, edible food — worth $165 billion annually — gets tossed in the trash instead feeding someone who’s hungry. Misinterpretation of date labels is one of the key factors contributing to this waste.

Confusion over dates, according to a survey by the Food Marketing Institute, leads nine out of 10 Americans to needlessly throw away food. For the average family of four, this could translate to several hundred dollars’ worth of food being thrown away every year. A senseless waste, when we’re all keeping a close eye on our household budgets, and when one in six Americans lacks a secure supply of food. Because regulators, industry players, and citizens have become accustomed to seeing date labels on many food products over time, policymakers have not asked important questions about the date labeling system, and there has been a dearth of rigorous policy analyses of how these labels affect consumers’ choices surrounding purchasing and discarding food products.

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill

August 26, 2012 Comments off

Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Food is simply too good to waste. Even the most sustainably farmed food does us no good if the food is never eaten. Getting food to our tables eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month. Not only does this mean that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, but also 25 percent of all freshwater and huge amounts of unnecessary chemicals, energy, and land. Moreover, almost all of that uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills where it accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.

Nutrition is also lost in the mix — food saved by reducing losses by just 15 percent could feed more than 25 million Americans every year at a time when one in six Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables. Given all the resources demanded for food production, it is critical to make sure that the least amount possible is needlessly squandered on its journey to our plates.

Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

June 28, 2012 Comments off

Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

NRDC’s annual analysis of water quality and public notification data at coastal U.S. beaches found that the number of beach closing and advisory days in 2011 reached the third-highest level in the 22-year history of our report, totaling 23,481 days (a 3% decrease from 2010). More than two-thirds of closings and advisories were issued because bacteria levels in beachwater exceeded public health standards, indicating the presence of human or animal waste in the water. The portion of all monitoring samples that exceeded national recommended health standards for designated beach areas remained stable at 8% in 2011, compared with 8% in 2010 and 7% for the four previous years. In addition, the number of beaches monitored in 2011 increased slightly (2%) from a five-year low in 2010. The largest known source of pollution was stormwater runoff (47%, compared with 36% last year). The 2011 results confirm that our nation’s beaches continue to experience significant water pollution that puts swimmers and local economies at risk.

NRDC continues to push for improvements in beachwater quality standards and test methods. Most recently, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed an action that could leave the public inadequately protected if it is not strengthened—one establishing recommended standards for beach officials to use to keep people from being exposed to unsafe levels of disease-causing bacteria and viruses. While beachwater quality standards are critical, ultimately the most important long-term action is to adopt 21st-century solutions that address the sources of beachwater pollution, particularly stormwater runoff. The most important of these solutions remains incentivizing and implementing green infrastructure in our cities, such as green roofs, porous pavement, and street plantings, which stop rain where it falls. Green infrastructure effectively reduces the amount of runoff that makes its way into beachwater or triggers harmful sewage overflows, transforming potential beach pollution into a tremendous local water supply resource.

NRDC Report: DriversTo Save $68 Billion by 2030 Under 54.5 MPG Standard

April 22, 2012 Comments off

NRDC Report: DriversTo Save $68 Billion by 2030 Under 54.5 MPG Standard
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Drivers will save $68 billion in fuel costs when the Obama administration’s 54.5 miles-per-gallon standard is fully implemented in 2030, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Drivers in Texas, California and Florida will save the most in 2030 according to “Relieving Pain at the Pump.”

But motorists everywhere right now can find relief from $4-a-gallon gas prices on the showroom floor. New 2012 models contain substantially more fuel-efficient choices as automakers begin to fulfill requirements under the administration’s original 2009 clean cars agreement to raise standards to 35.5 mpg by 2016.

The 54.5 mpg by 2025 standard, set to be finalized in August, will double today’s average level of fuel efficiency. This will save individual drivers $4400 over the life of the vehicle, after considering the cost of the fuel saving technologies. NRDC quantified savings in all states in 2030, giving the more efficient vehicles a chance to penetrate the roadways.

+ Relieving Pain at the Pump

Study: Latinos Face Major Health Risks From Delays of EPA Air Pollution Rules

September 23, 2011 Comments off

Study: Latinos Face Major Health Risks From Delays of EPA Air Pollution Rules
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council (et. al.)

Latinos are among those facing the greatest risk from efforts to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updates to health safeguards protecting Americans from ozone, mercury and other dangerous air pollutants, according to a major new report from the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Center for American Progress, and the National Wildlife Federation and released with the and released with the National Hispanic Medical Association.

Finding that one out two Hispanic Americans living in counties that frequently violate air pollution standards, the report, which is titled “U.S. Latinos and Air Pollution: A Call to Action,” comes just days after President Obama pulled back the EPA’s stronger standard for ozone, and shortly before a series of votes planned for the US House to block additional safeguards to protect public health from power plants, cement kilns and other industrial plants. The report highlights air pollution in states that are home to more than 75 percent of Hispanic Americans: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

+ Full Report

NRDC: It’s Not Just the Heat, It’s the Smog Pollution

August 17, 2011 Comments off

NRDC: It’s Not Just the Heat, It’s the Smog Pollution
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Most of the nation – from seaside suburbs to our national parks – has experienced health-threatening “bad air” days this year due to smog pollution, according to a new analysis of government air pollution data by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Led by California, about 250 communities and parks in nearly 40 states have experienced one or more “code orange” dangerous air days this year, making it unsafe for children, older adults and people with breathing problems to go outside.

In all, more than 2,000 “code orange” air quality alerts occurred nationwide in just the first seven months of this year, with many areas having long stretches of days with bad air due to elevated smog levels.

NRDC’s analysis comes amid ongoing EPA delays for approving updated air pollution standards that could save thousands of American lives and stop tens of thousands of asthma attacks each year.

+ Locations and number of days on which smog levels reached “Code Orange” levels – dangerous to children and other sensitive groups (under existing standards.) (PDF)

Cleaner Vehicles Create Opportunities for Jobs, Economic Growth, Study Shows

August 12, 2011 Comments off

Cleaner Vehicles Create Opportunities for Jobs, Economic Growth, Study Shows
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council/National Wildlife Federation/United Auto Workers

More than 150,000 American workers already are making components for clean, fuel-efficient vehicles, and that number could grow significantly as the United States continues to embrace new generations of fuel efficient cars and trucks, according to a new study released today.

The report, jointly produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and the UAW, comes just two days before President Obama is to visit an advanced battery facility in Holland, Mich., to tout how the new 54.5 mpg fuel standard for cars and light trucks will lead to innovative technologies that will enable automakers to achieve even greater mileage for their products—and save consumers money.

The report, “Supplying Ingenuity: U.S. Suppliers of Clean, Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Technologies,” underscores the strong link between fuel-efficient vehicles and economic vitality.

+ Full Report and Supply Chain Map

Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida Lead List of “Toxic 20″ States with Most Toxic Air Pollution from Power Plants

July 20, 2011 Comments off

Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida Lead List of “Toxic 20″ States with Most Toxic Air Pollution from Power Plants
Source: National Resources Defense Council

Residents of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida live in states with the most toxic air pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The study used publicly-available data in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The analysis, entitled “Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States” was jointly released today by NRDC and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).

Among the key findings:

  • Nearly half of all the toxic air pollution reported from industrial sources in the United States comes from coal- and oil-fired power plants.
  • Power plants are the single largest industrial source of toxic air pollution in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

+ Full report and map (PDFs)

DVR, Cable and Satellite Boxes Waste $2 Billion of Electricity Every Year

June 27, 2011 Comments off

DVR, Cable and Satellite Boxes Waste $2 Billion of Electricity Every Year
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Digital video recorders (DVRs), cable and other pay-TV boxes cost American consumers $3 billion a year — $1 billion to operate when in active use and an additional $2 billion while inactive but still running at near full power, according to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Also known as set-top boxes, these devices squander the equivalent annual energy output of six coal burning power plants (500 MW) because they are not equipped to power down when not being used.

“Set-top boxes are the ultimate home energy vampires, silently sucking significant amounts of energy and money when nobody’s using them,” said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist at the NRDC. “The consumer, who pays the electric bill, deserves technologies without hidden costs. At a time when everyone is trying to cut waste from our budgets and electric grid, service providers shouldn’t saddle their subscribers with boxes that unnecessarily squeeze their wallets.”

The NRDC study, Reducing the National Energy Consumption of Set-Top Boxes, also found that today’s average new cable high-definition digital video recorder (HD-DVR) consumes more electricity annually than the new flat panel TV to which it’s typically connected and about 40% more than its basic set-top box counterpart. In contrast, cell phones, which also work on a subscriber basis with a need for secure connections, are able to use extremely low levels of power when not in use – primarily to preserve battery life.

There are approximately 160 million set-top boxes installed in US homes, or the equivalent of one box for every two Americans. These boxes consume as much electricity each year as that consumed by the entire state of Maryland and are responsible for 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

+ Full Report

America’s Smartest Regions For Transportation

February 24, 2011 Comments off

America’s Smartest Regions For Transportation
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Empty coffers and rising gas prices may be the talk of the town, but cities across the country are finding innovative solutions to costly commutes by providing cheaper, healthier alternatives. In Lincoln, Nebraska, a 2011 Smarter City for transportation, low-income riders pay a mere $7.50 for unlimited bus rides all month long. Getting from place to place is more affordable in New York—at an average annual household cost of $5,289—than in any other large city. And at an average of 9,920 miles a year per household, New Yorkers travel fewer miles in the car than residents in any other region in the country besides Jersey City, New Jersey.

“By and large, ‘location efficient’ places – with essential services that are nearby or accessible by many transportation modes – lower transportation costs for residents,” says Scott Bernstein, president of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). “Cities and regions that foster compact, walkable, transit-rich communities can reduce reliance on automobiles and help lower at least one expense for households struggling to get by in the current economy.”

Lincoln, New York and Jersey City are three of 15 metropolitan regions selected by NRDC’s Smarter Cities team for their impressive and effective transportation programs. The study, created in collaboration with CNT, compares and profiles U.S. cities based on public transit availability and use; household automobile ownership and use; and innovative, sustainable and affordable transportation programs.

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