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Why the Offshore Wind Industry Is About to Take Off

The Middelgruden wind farm in Denmark includes only 20 wind turbines. That's not many, but it's four four times the current total of U.S. offshore turbines. Offshore projects now in the works for the U.S. will substantially change the picture. (Image credit: United Nations / CC BY-NC-ND / Flickr) There are only five wind turbines operating in U.S. waters today. But that will likely soon change, partly because of states with ambitious offshore wind targets. Off the Massachusetts coastline, for example, Vineyard Wind aims to build one of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farms. This planned 800-megawatt offshore wind…

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Nitrate Taints Drinking Water of Millions, Study Finds

Levels of nitrate that could cause illness and birth defects are in the drinking water of 5.6 million Americans and is a particular problem for Hispanic communities. (Image credit: Kamil Kaczor / CC / Flickr) Drinking water for more than 5 million Americans contains nitrate levels that may be high enough to increase the risk of cancer and birth defects, a study published earlier this month said. The problem is especially acute with community water systems that serve Hispanic residents, the report in Environmental Health said. In the wake of the 2015 water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the authors said…

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New York City Bans Foam Food and Beverage Containers

New York City's ban on polystyrene coffee cups and clamshell food containers should reduce street litter and help clean up waterways. The new rule took effect on Jan. 1 but businesses have six months to comply. (Image credit: Janine / BY-NC-ND / Flickr) New York City’s streets will have less litter and its rivers and bays will be less polluted as the Big Apple becomes the largest jurisdiction in the country to ban polystyrene foam food and beverage containers. The new policy, effective January 1, 2019, caps an intense, five-year battle in which the plastics industry, led by the Dart…

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Researchers Raise Questions About Rigid Foam Flame Retardant

A flame retardant introduced in 2011 as an environmentally safer alternative for polystyrene insulation can break down in the presence of sunlight and heat into chemicals that are potentially harmful to the environment, a group of German researchers said in a published report. In an article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers said they had tested a flame retardant called Polymeric FR. The compound was designed to replace hexabromocyclodecane (HBCD) in extruded and expanded polystyrene (XPS and EPS) foam insulation. Both are commonly used in residential construction. Polymeric FR, developed by Dow Chemical, has a higher molecular…

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Carbon Crossroads: Can Germany Revive Its Stalled Energy Transition?

One of many wind farms in Germany, where the number of turbines nears 30,000. Despite a huge push, greenhouse gas emissions have not declined as quickly as expected, and polls show 75% of Germans want the government to do more. (Image credit: Benefit of Hindsight / CC BY-NC-ND / Flickr) This post originally appeared at Yale Environment 360. Northern Germany, from the Polish borderlands in the east to the Netherlands in the west, is the stronghold of Germany’s muscular onshore wind power industry. This is where the lion’s share of the country’s nearly 30,000 wind turbines are sited, a combined…

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Flatrock Passive: A Winter Update

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of blogs by David Goodyear describing the construction of his new home in Flatrock, Newfoundland, the first in the province built to the Passive House standard. You’ll find his complete blog here. In a previous post I talked a little about food security. I tried to focus some of the landscape in our yard on producing food — and it was a huge success! We had a steady supply of baby root vegetables and greens until the end of September. The garden was quite a bit of work but it was amazingly…

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