Streams

 

Environment

Why Farmers Plan To Plant So Much Corn This Year

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

U.S. farmers anticipate planting the most corn since 1936, a total of 97.3 million acres. Farmers are hoping to rebuild their corn supplies after last year's drought. Chad Hart, economics professor at Iowa State University, explains why farmers intend to plant high amount of corn this season.

Comment

Could Wind Turbines Be Toxic To The Ear?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Critics argue that wind turbine syndrome is a fictional malady perpetuated by people angered by the wind turbines in their communities. Now ear, nose and throat experts are finally weighing in on whether it could be real.

Comment

China's Air Pollution Linked To Millions Of Early Deaths

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

About 1.2 million people die prematurely every year in China from exposure to outdoor air pollution. Smog has dogged the country as it grows at an explosive rate and burns huge quantities of fossil fuels. But there are signs that the government is beginning to take the issue more seriously.

Comment

In Missouri, Days Of Drought Send Caretakers To One 'Big Tree'

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Before the American Revolution, a huge tree has been standing in central Missouri, growing to 90 feet tall. The beloved bur oak, which everybody calls "The Big Tree," has survived all kinds of punishments during 350 years on the prairie. But last year's record drought was rough on the tree, causing it to wilt and alarming two locals who nursed it back to health.

Comment

James Hansen, NASA Scientist Who Raised Climate Change Alarm, Is Retiring

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

But the man who issued one of the earliest warnings about the potential for global warming isn't going away. He plans to concentrate on his environmental activism efforts.

Comment

From Pets To Plates: Why More People Are Eating Guinea Pigs

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Guinea pigs are popular pets in the U.S., but in parts of South America, they're a delicacy. Some environmental and humanitarian groups are making a real push to encourage guinea pig farming as an eco-friendly alternative to beef. And the animals are also showing up in more U.S. restaurants.

Comment

German Prince Plans To Put Bison Back In The Wild

Monday, April 01, 2013

The prince's dream of reintroducing European bison, or wisent, into Germany's most densely populated state will soon be reality. It will be the first time in nearly 300 years that these creatures will roam Western Europe. But not everyone is as excited as the prince.

Comment

EPA's Push For More Ethanol Could Be Too Little, Too Late

Monday, April 01, 2013

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could soon issue a final ruling that aims to force oil companies to replace E10, gasoline mixed with 10 percent ethanol, with E15. This move could come just as widespread support for ethanol, which is made from corn, appears to be eroding.

Comment

State Gives Example Of New Federal Gas Standards

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Environment Protection Agency has proposed new rules that will require cars to run on cleaner gas. The rules are intended to lower sulfur emission and reduce smog, and they'd go into effect in 2017. NPR's Sonari Glinton reports they're similar to standards in place in California.

Comment

Transportation Nation

LaHood Doles Out Another $1.42 Billion To Transit Hit By Sandy

Friday, March 29, 2013

(New York, NY - WNYC) The federal government is making available the balance of $2 billion promised to transit agencies hit hard by Sandy. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told transit managers, mostly in New York and New Jersey, that if they've got invoices for Sandy reconstruction and repairs, he's got $1.2 billion in reimbursements to dole out.

That's $545 million less than the amount available before cuts forced by sequestration.

Most of the funding will go to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs buses, trains and subways in and around the city; the PATH train, which connects northern New Jersey to Manhattan; New Jersey Transit, which runs trains and bus in that state; and the NYC Department of Transportation, which oversees roads and bridges.

Here's the full text of LaHood's announcement:

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $1.42 Billion to Help Transit Agencies Recover From Hurricane Sandy

FTA meets deadline to get first $2 billion in aid to storm’s hardest-hit communities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a third round of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) storm-related reimbursements through the FY 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act. The majority of the $1.4 billion announced today goes to the four transit agencies that incurred the greatest expenses while preparing for and recovering from Hurricane Sandy—the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corp. (PATH), New Jersey Transit (NJT), and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT). The remainder will be allocated to other transit agencies that incurred eligible storm-related expenses but have not yet received funds.

“Shortly after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, President Obama and I promised that we would do everything in our power to bring relief to the hardest-hit communities, and that is exactly what we have done,” said Secretary LaHood. “In less than two months’ time, we met our commitment to provide $2 billion to more than a dozen transit agencies that suffered serious storm damage, and laid the groundwork to continue helping them rebuild stronger than before.”

A total of $10.9 billion was appropriated for the disaster relief effort, which is administered through FTA’s Emergency Relief Program. (This amount was reduced by 5 percent, or $545 million, because of the mandatory sequestration budget cut that took effect on March 1.) Earlier this month, FTA allocated nearly $554 million of the first $2 billion in aid to reimburse certain transit providers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. With today’s allocation, FTA has now met the 60-day Congressional deadline to get the initial funds out the door in order to reimburse hard-hit transit agencies for expenses incurred while preparing for and recovering from the storm.

“Considering that over a third of America's transit riders use the systems most heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy, it is imperative that we continue this rapid progress to restore these systems in the tri-state region,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff.

The remainder of the $10.9 billion will be utilized for ongoing recovery efforts as well as to help agencies become more resilient in the face of future storms and disasters. The FTA has published an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register this week for FTA’s Emergency Relief Program outlining general requirements that apply to all the funds allocated related to Sandy and future grants awarded under this program.

A summary of how the funds announced today are to be allocated is described below. A more detailed breakdown, and information on eligibility requirements, appears in the Federal Register:

$1.4 billion in disaster relief aid primarily to assist the transit agencies that incurred the greatest storm-related expenditures: the New York MTA, the PATH, New Jersey Transit (NJT), and the NYC DOT. These funds are made available on a pro-rated basis, based on damage and cost assessments FTA has made with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the transit agencies themselves.

A separate $21.9 million allocation to reimburse the NYC DOT as part of a consolidated request with other entities for various activities prior, during, and after the storm to protect the Staten Island Ferry, its equipment, and personnel, the East River Ferry service, and Governors Island, including the public island’s Battery Maritime Building ferry waiting room. Emergency measures included moving transit equipment to higher ground, operating ferry vessels at berths to prevent damage; debris removal; reestablishing public transportation service; protecting, preparing and securing Ferry Terminals at St. George and Whitehall, facilities and offices to address potential flooding; staffing and operating ferryboats at berths to prevent damage; and performing shelter-in-place operations for worker protection during the storm.

$422,895 to reimburse four additional transit agencies for expenses incurred preparing for and recovering from the storm. These are the Greater Bridgeport Transit District ($21,783); the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ($344,311); the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority ($1,179) and the Connecticut Department of Transportation, which is receiving $55,622 just for CTTransit bus-related expenses, as FTA previously allocated $2.8 million to MTA for Metro-North rail service serving southwestern Connecticut.

A table listing total allocations for funding recipients to date and a summary of their reimbursable expenditures is available here.

 

Read More

Comment

U.S. Navy Funding Development Of Giant Jellyfish Robot

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Cyro," under development at Virginia Tech, looks and moves like a jellyfish. Researchers say it could be used for studying the oceans and cleaning up oil spills.

Comment

EPA Proposes New Rule To Clean Up Gasoline And Reduce Smog

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed on Friday a rule to clean up gasoline. The new lower sulfur gas is already what California uses to reduce air pollution, and the EPA wants it to be used nationwide. The agency estimates that it would save lives while adding a penny a gallon to the cost of gas. The oil industry fears it will cost more.

Comment

Transportation Nation

Striking Vintage EPA Photos Show Troubling Proximity of People and Pollution in 1970s

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Chemical plants on shore are considered prime source of pollution." (Marc St. Gil, Lake Charles, Louisiana, June 1972. National Archives, EPA Documerica Project)

These photos are beautiful. They're also sad, and hopeful, and quaint.

In the 1970s the EPA commissioned photographers to roam the country and document daily life in places like coal mines, riverbanks, cities, and even an early clean tech conference in a motel parking lot. The images were meant to be a baseline to measure change in the years to come, but there was no funding to go back to the original places.

The Documerica project photos are up on Flickr now (hat tip to FastCoExist for posting some of these gems). It's an overwhelming album of nostalgia for everyday life, but also, devastatingly depressing to see how dirty and toxic so many inhabited places could be in the 1970s ... and how little has changed in some places today.

What makes the project so powerful though, is how beautiful the photography is, even of the mundane moments, or tragic scenarios like kids playing in a river next to a power plant.

Strum through the albums yourself and share your favorites with us on our Facebook page and we'll add more pics to this post later on.

In the albums, there are also early editions of clean technology, like Frank Lodge's photos from the first First Symposium on Low Pollution Power Systems held at what seems to be a motel parking lot.

Exhibit at the First Symposium on Low Pollution Power Systems Development Held at the Marriott Motor Inn, Ann Arbor, Mich. Vehicles and Hardware Were Assembled at the EPA Ann Arbor Laboratory. Part of the Exhibit Was Held in the Motel Parking Lot the Ebs "Sundancer", an Experimental Electric Car, Gets Its Batteries Charged From an Outlet in the Parking Lot 10/1973 (Frank Lodge. National Archives, EPA Documerica Project)

 

"Children play in yard of Ruston home, while Tacoma smelter stack showers area with arsenic and lead residue." (Gene Daniels. Ruston, Washington, August 1972. National Archives, EPA Documerica Project)

 

David Falconer documented the fuel shortage in the west during the 1970s, as well as water pollution in the area at the time.  (David Falconer, National Arcives, EPA Documerica Project)

 

Miner Wayne Gipson, 39, with His Daughter Tabitha, 3. He Has Just Gotten Home From His Job as a Conveyor Belt Operator in a Non-Union Mine. as Soon as He Arrives He Takes a Shower and Changes Into Clothes to Do Livestock Chores with His Two Sons. Gipson Was Born and Raised in Palmer, Tennessee, But Now Lives with His Family near Gruetli, near Chattanooga. He Moved North to Work and Married There, But Returned Because He and His Wife Think It Is a Better Place to Live 12/1974 (Jack Corn. National Archives, EPA Documerica Project)

 Follow Alex Goldmark on Twitter @alexgoldmark

Read More

Comment

From The Stone Age To The Digital Age In One Big Leap

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Deep in the Amazon, an isolated Brazilian tribe almost vanished when it first had contact with the modern world. Now the Surui tribe is working with Google to do things like report on illegal logging in the forest.

Comment

Federal Budget Cuts Hamper Waste Cleanup At Washington Nuclear Reservation

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington state is set to lose $182 million due to federal budget cuts known as the sequester. The cuts come just after news that six tanks full of radioactive waste are leaking. Those tanks are filled with millions of gallons of the most toxic nuclear waste on Earth and are not far from the Northwest's iconic Columbia River.

Comment

Mapping The Microbes That Flourish On Fruits And Veggies

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Salad is not just a food; it's home to a flourishing community of mostly benign microbes. A new inventory finds surprising differences in the bacteria growing on popular fruits and vegetables.

Comment

Why Illinois Is Roaring Mad About Lion Meat

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lion meat has been gaining traction among adventurous foodies. But some wildlife advocates worry that interest in lion meat in the U.S. could encourage more poaching abroad. So they're pushing legislation to ban lion meat in the state that seems to be at the center of the U.S. trade.

Comment

The Leonard Lopate Show

Fossil Fuels v. Alternative Energy in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal looks at how much the United States really needs fossil fuels like oil and gas and whether alternative, clean energy from wind, the sun, and the water will ever be able to compete with fossil fuels to provide our energy needs. Her article “Life After Oil and Gas,” was published in the Sunday Review section of the Times.

 

Comments [5]

Transportation Nation

Devil's Slide Tunnels Open After a Long Fight

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Devil's Slide Tunnels under construction in 2009 (photo by flickr user Mars Hall)

The new tunnels at Devil’s Slide on the northern California coast are finally open to drivers. This marks the first time cars have driven through a brand-new California highway tunnel in almost 50 years. The Devil’s Slide tunnels, officially named the Tom Lantos Tunnels, have been under construction since 2007 but have been a source of controversy since the 1970s.

When Highway 1 was built along the California Coast in the 1930s, it included a 1.2 mile stretch of road on an extremely unstable piece of hillside between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay called Devil’s Slide. During especially rainy winters, the ground would give way, causing the road to break and forcing drivers into a 45 mile detour. In 1995, the road was closed for 158 days.

Since the 1960s, California’s Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, had been looking for an alternative route. Caltrans proposed a highway bypass that would cut through the coastal hills. Locals and environmental activists were vehemently against the bypass, which would have been a larger freeway and split Montara State Park. The groups successfully used the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Coastal Act to postpone construction of the bypass through the 1970s and 80s. At the same time, the groups fought for a tunnel as the solution to the Devil’s Slide.

Caltrans had originally said that a tunnel would be too costly, but an independent study in 1996 showed that the tunnel was “reasonable and feasible.” In November of 1996, 74 percent of the voters of San Mateo County approved an initiative that stated a tunnel was the only permissible repair alternative to Devil’s Slide.

Construction began in 2007. The tunnels are over three-quarters of a mile long, with a total of 32 ventilation fans. The project’s cost of $439 million was fully funded with Federal Emergency Relief money, secured by U.S. Representative Tom Lantos, the tunnel’s namesake.

In a press release, Brian Kelly, the acting secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, praised Caltrans and the other groups that worked to make the tunnels a reality.

“Ingenuity, will, and perseverance combined to get this project done. The new tunnels are state of the art structures that blend well into the beautiful, natural surroundings on this stretch of Highway 1,” he said. “Thanks to the work of the men and women who dedicated themselves to completing this project, motorists and emergency responders will have a safer journey from this day forward.”

Read More

Comment

A Hot Topic: Climate Change Coming To Classrooms

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

For the first time, new nationwide science standards due out soon will recommend teaching K-12 students about climate change. Educators say many teachers have shied away from the polarizing topic, and an organized campaign to promote it as "controversial" leaves many students confused.

Comment