Sustainability Reads: June 13- July 10

A strong new chemical safety law
On June 22, President Obama signed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, a bill that will finally give the EPA the necessary tools and authority to gain insight into the chemicals in products we buy and to protect human health from those that are unsafe. The new law makes more information about chemicals available by limiting companies’ ability to claim information as confidential and requiring safety reviews for chemicals in active commerce as well as for new chemicals before they can enter the market. The EPA also has enhanced authority to require testing of both new and existing chemicals. This is major news, as experts have been pressing for a reform of existing chemical laws for more than a decade. The new chemical safety act amends the Toxic Substances Control Act, the main law for chemical safety in the U.S., which was adopted in 1976 and essentially prevented the government from protecting Americans from chemicals. Environmental Defense Fund

One Simple, Cheap Trick To Make Cities Better: Plant More Trees
A new study with data from cities in California shows that the state’s 9.1 million trees provide annual services valued at $1 billion or $110.63 per tree. These services include cutting energy use by reducing the need for air conditioning, storing carbon dioxide, trapping airborne pollutants, intercepting rainfall, and even raising property prices. According to the study, trees are one of the best dollar-for-dollar investments a city can make. Despite these benefits that trees provide cities, the study says that the state isn’t planting (or keeping) as many trees as they could, and there is much room for improvement. By Ben Schiller at Co-Exist

Global fish production approaching sustainable limit, UN warns
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, around 90% of the world’s stocks are now fully or overfished and global fish production is set to increase further by 2025. About 40% of popular species like tuna are now being caught unsustainably and regions like the Mediterranean and the Black Sea are observing overfishing rates of around 60%. In addition, 12% of the world’s population (and many low-income countries) now rely directly or indirectly on the fisheries industry. By Arthur Neslen at the Guardian

Ozone Hole Shows Signs of Shrinking, Scientists Say
After three decades of regulation, the ozone hole is finally beginning to mend; however, it is not expected to be fully recovered until the middle of the century. Between 2000-2015, the ozone hole shrunk by about 1.5 million square miles, or about 1/3 the area of the U.S., according to researchers. A NASA analysis showed that without the regulation put on ozone-depleting pollutants, by midcentury, the ozone hole would have covered the world. At noon on a clear summer day in a city like New York, the UV index, a measure of the damage the sun can do, would have caused a noticeable sunburn on unprotected skin in 10 minutes. By Henry Fountain at the New York Times

On another positive note, at the North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa that took place at the end of June, the leaders of Mexico, U.S., and Canada pledged to generate half of the continent’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2025. The target, up from 37% today, will require increasing wind and solar.

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