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Growing evidence of health threats from tar sands exploitation

As the delay on the proposal to implement the Fuel Quality Directive reaches 1,186 days, there is growing evidence that tar sands mining and drilling operations, pipelines, and refineries are exposing local communities to serious health risks and problems.

Crucial decision on ‘technically feasible’ ships NOx reduction

Curtailing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from ships is ‘technically feasible’, according to a new study published ahead of this week’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting that will decide on a proposal to postpone the 2016 introduction of NOx emission control areas at sea.

Fight to defend environment and consumer protection slows EU-US trade talks

The EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht has ordered a public consultation on a legal clause in the emerging EU-US trade agreement that campaigners say could undermine environmental and consumer protection. The legal provision, known as ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, would give companies the right to take legal action against governments if they feel their investment potential or profits are being hindered by regulatory or policy changes at national level. What’s more, such disputes would be judged by special panels made up of people acceptable to business interests, and bypass national laws.

Air pollution forces Paris number plate ban

A peak in air pollution brought a drastic change to transport habits in Paris for one day, following a combination of unseasonably hot weather and diesel cars fumes. No strangers to air pollution regularly exceeding EU limits, the authorities in the French capital banned all cars with even-numbered licence plates from entering the city on 17 March due to exceptionally high levels. The idea was to ban odd-numbered plates the next day, but that proved unnecessary as a 25% reduction in traffic and cooler weather brought pollution levels down.

New citizens’ tool in EU decision-making

The first-ever European ‘citizens’ 'initiative’ has set in train a process that could lead to changes in EU legislation, which in turn would establish the initiative as a democratic tool in the EU’s legislative process. The ‘Right2Water’ initiative was signed by almost 1.7 million EU citizens and presented to the Commission. The commissioners have now responded by announcing a public consultation, which could lead to changes in the EU’s drinking water directive.

Lorry safety advances under threat after vote delayed

There are concerns for the future of lorry design proposals that would drastically improve road safety, after a vote in the European Parliament was postponed earlier this month. The Transport Committee will not decide until March 18 on the long-awaited rules governing driver visibility, lorry-crash performance and more aerodynamic, emissions-saving design.

Free BMW and Audi cars a conflict of interest?

A leading Green MEP has questioned whether sponsorship of the EU presidency by Audi and BMW could represent a conflict of interest. The German luxury carmakers provided free cars to EU member states that were responsible for leading policy negotiations over new carbon emissions targets.

‘Oppose NOx rule delay’

An International Maritime Organisation (IMO) proposal to delay the start of stricter nitrogen oxide standards would undermine the EU’s air quality goals and should be opposed, the European Commission has said. In April, an IMO committee will decide on whether to postpone the 2016 date for the introduction of stricter NOx emissions standards from new ships operating in NOx control areas (NECAs).

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