France to Restrict Beef Palm Imports to Reduce Global Deforestation

By Shaquile GoffRabat- Five ministries within the French government came together to issue a joint statement Wednesday for a 17-point plan to stop importing products they believe have an extreme negative impact on global forests. France gave the examples of palm and soy products as environmentally-intensive products France will regulate, according to French outlet France24. Palm oil, grown in tropical forests, is used frequently in cooking and cosmetics, among other things. Read Also: MSC, Macoisiere Offer New Cruises from Morocco to BrazilIndonesia, the world’s largest supplier of palm oil, recently came under global criticism for the rapid destruction of forests which have pushed native orangutan populations to the brink of extinction. According to the French ministries’ joint statement, between 1990 and 2015, the world’s forest area fell by about 129 million hectares.The beef industry will also face stricter regulation in France. Similar to the palm and soy oil industry, the cattle business requires a large amount of deforestation to produce enough beef to meet the constantly rising global demand. Cattle are also responsible for a large portion of methane released into the atmosphere. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas, and its increase has been linked to global climate change.The French bill includes financial incentives to foreign countries for abiding by stricter environmental laws, a push for increased taxes on products that pose a risk to forests, and a “zero deforestation” label on consumer goods.France has also joined Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway to demand the European Commission develop a plan to address global deforestation by the end of 2018. read more

Elevated benzene levels near Texas petrochemicals facility

HOUSTON — National Guard troops have been called in and residents are being told to stay inside after elevated levels of benzene were detected near a Houston-area petrochemicals storage facility that caught fire this week.Harris County officials said Thursday that the Guard and hazardous materials teams have established perimeters around the Intercontinental Terminals Company in Deer Park.The Texas Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that benzene levels near the facility didn’t post a health concern. But authorities now say a shelter-in-place order following “reports of action levels of benzene or other volatile organic compounds” within Deer Park.Several school districts also cancelled classes for the day, citing “unfavourable air quality conditions.”The fire started Sunday, sending a huge, dark plume into the air, and spread to storage tanks holding components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner.The Associated Press read more