Overnight Energy: San Francisco pushes back against Trump over water pollution claims | Court says EPA not doing enough on cross-state smog | Iceberg larger than Los Angeles breaks off Antarctica

Overnight Energy: San Francisco pushes back against Trump over water pollution claims | Court says EPA not doing enough on cross-state smog | Iceberg larger than Los Angeles breaks off Antarctica
© Greg Nash

SAN FRANCISCO VS. TRUMP: The city of San Francisco is pushing back against claims from the Trump administration that it isn't doing enough to treat the stormwater it pumps back into its bay.

The city's actions come as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent the city a notice Wednesday saying it is violating the Clean Water Act because of its discharges.

It's the second letter in a week where the EPA has referenced the city. EPA head Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration denies permit for controversial Pebble Mine | Progressives see red flags in regulatory official on Biden transition team | EPA won't require industry to guarantee funding for toxic waste cleanups EPA won't require industry to guarantee funding for toxic waste cleanups OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds MORE listed the city last Thursday when discussing how California is "failing to meet its obligations" on sewage and water pollution.


Wheeler, in a letter to Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomMayor of Denver apologizes for holiday travel after advising residents to stay put California, Texas shatter single-day nationwide record for new coronavirus cases Denver mayor flies to Mississippi for Thanksgiving after advising against travel MORE (D), had specifically cited the homeless as a risk to the water supply, saying cities were not adequately treating the pollution that comes in through its storm drains.

City officials sent a letter to Wheeler on Wednesday touting San Francisco's sewer system and saying that claim is simply not true.

"The city is proud of its combined sewer system, which captures and treats all of the combined sanitary and storm water flow during the Bay Area's wet winters. The combined sewer system ensures the capture of motor oil, pesticides, metals, trash and other street litter that would otherwise flow directly into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean during storms," the city said.

San Francisco's combined sewer system brings stormwater as well as wastewater from homes and business to one system for treatment. Though such systems can get overwhelmed and overflow during heavy rains, they are credited with capturing pollution that would otherwise flow directly into waterbodies. Many cities that do not have combined systems simply let rainwater flow into nearby waterways untreated.

Read more on the fight here.


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COURT KNOCKS EPA ON GOOD NEIGHBOR RULE: Federal judges dealt a blow to the Trump administration late Tuesday, finding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn't done enough to limit cross-state air pollution.

A panel of judges for the D.C. Circuit Court, which includes a Trump appointee, ordered the EPA to come up with a new plan for how to address smog that travels to the densely populated Northeast, where states are failing to meet federal air quality standards. 

The decision follows a similar ruling in a Wisconsin case a few weeks ago that said the Clean Air Act's "Good Neighbor provision" compels EPA action.

The states that brought the case -- New York, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Delaware -- argue the EPA hasn't done enough to help them meet a 2021 deadline for reducing ozone pollution, more commonly referred to as smog. The EPA argued states are on track to meet those standards by 2023. 

"Those states pointed out to the court that it was irrelevant and insufficient for EPA to say ozone levels would be reduced sufficiently by 2023 because of course there is a two year disconnect," said John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

An EPA spokesperson said, "We are reviewing the opinion."

Walke said the EPA historically has required downwind states to install better pollution control on coal burning power plants.

But this decision comes as the EPA is facing other legal challenges after replacing an Obama-era power plant pollution rule with one that critics say does almost nothing to stem pollution.

The ruling does note the EPA "still retains some flexibility" in how it may respond. That includes giving those Northeast states a one-year deadline extension to meet smog standards or arguing that it would be impossible to push through the lengthy bureaucratic process to reduce pollution in time to meet the 2021 deadline.

Read more here.



An iceberg larger than the city of Los Angeles has reportedly broken off of Antarctica's Amery Ice Shelf.

According to CNN, scientists at the Australian Antarctic Program, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography made the discovery last Thursday.

The iceberg reportedly spans roughly 632 square miles and contains 315 billion tons of ice. It is reportedly the largest piece of ice to have separated from the shelf in more than 100 years.

Scientists began tracking developments at the shelf roughly two decades ago, after signs of a major split began to emerge.

Scripps glaciologist Helen Amanda Fricker told CNN that scientists predicted a split sometime between 2010 and 2015 after a similar event took place on the ice shelf about five decades back. 

"I am excited to see this calving event after all these years. We knew it would happen eventually, but just to keep us all on our toes, it is not exactly where we expected it to be," Fricker said.

She also added that she doesn't believe the event "is linked to climate change" but is rather a "part of the ice shelf's normal cycle, where we see major calving events every 60-70 years."

Read about the iceberg here.



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