Environment

A landmark deal 10 years in the making will protect 9.1 millions acres of Canadian rain forest on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia.

The protected area in the Great Bear Rainforest is about half the size of Ireland.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Flint, Mich., families are using bottled water to do everything — from cooking to bathing.

The tap water is still unsafe to drink after government officials allowed corroded lead pipes to poison the water.

People in Flint have lots of questions for those officials. Perhaps the biggest is the one Hattie Collins has.

"When are you gonna fix it? And I mean fix it right," she says.

Praying for rain? You'll get (slightly) less when the moon is very high, a new study finds.

Scientists at the University of Washington say the moon's position impacts the amount of rainfall on Earth.

"As far as I know, this is the first study to convincingly connect the tidal force of the moon with rainfall," researcher Tsubasa Kohyama says in a press release from the university.

Beyond the Headlines

Jan 30, 2016

In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood that President Obama’s ambitious goal for electric vehicles has fallen short but a non-profit that tracks environmental crimes and accidents from the skies is a great success. Also, we mark the anniversary of the Ramsar Convention, an international agreement to protect wetlands. (published January 29, 2016)

Abandoned coal mines must be cleaned up for the health of the environment and regional waterways. But much of the funding for these projects comes from fees on new mines. Now with the slump in coal use, there’s less money to straighten up the toxic legacy of coal mining's past. The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier reports. (published January 29, 2016)

BirdNote: Costa Rica's Morning Chorus

Jan 30, 2016

In Costa Rica, the vibrant colors of a winter sunrise are closely rivaled by the exuberance of its birdsong. BirdNote’s Mary McCann reports that while some of Costa Rica’s bird species hide from sight, their calls are highly distinguishable. (published January 29, 2016)

Zika’s Emergence in a Changing Climate

Jan 30, 2016

An emerging Zika epidemic and its association with a worrisome birth defect has pushed a formerly obscure infection into the spotlight. Along with other vector-borne diseases such as dengue and West Nile, climate change is probably accelerating the spread of Zika, as mosquitoes also spread to new areas. Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician, tells host Steve Curwood about growing global public health concerns and how the virus might be controlled. (published January 29, 2016)

Flint and Environmental Racism

Jan 30, 2016

Prof. Robert Bullard, the “father of environmental justice”, says that the lead water disaster in Flint, Michigan is just the latest example in a long history of environmental injustice in the United States. Prof. Bullard, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, tells host Steve Curwood that the working class and communities of color like those of Flint are far more likely to be exposed to toxic substances like lead. (published January 29, 2016)

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Around the country, coal-fired power plants are racing to comply with new EPA rules to keep sulfur dioxide and mercury out of the air.

The Homer City Generating Station is one such facility. It rises like a cathedral out of a valley in Indiana County, an hour east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can see its smokestacks and hourglass shaped cooling towers from miles around.

The construction project to install new pollution controls at Homer City is a huge and expensive project. Total cost is estimated at $750 million. What makes the project so costly?

Is There A Better Way To Be Buried?

Jan 29, 2016

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking Death

About Jae Rhim Lee's TED Talk

Can we commit our bodies to a cleaner, greener Earth, even after death? Jae Rhim Lee says it's possible by using a special burial suit seeded with pollution-gobbling mushrooms.

About Jae Rhim Lee

What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?

Jan 29, 2016

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking Death

About Candy Chang's TED Talk

Artist Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard with a provocative prompt: "Before I die I want to ____." Her neighbors' answers grew into a kind of monument to the aspirations of the community.

About Candy Chang

Happy times are here again at the gas pump. The price of oil keeps falling, and Americans are filling their tanks for less than $2 a gallon. The government says cheaper gasoline put an extra $100 billion into drivers' wallets last year alone.

That seems like it would be good for the economy. Turns out, it might not be.

"Is it possible that lower oil prices could actually hurt the U.S. economy?" asks Vipin Arora, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "I think the answer could be yes."

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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

If you've been digging out of snowbanks lately, as many people in the East have been after a record-setting blizzard, blame the oceans.

Scientists have been doing some forensic work to figure out what set this megastorm in motion. And they think they've found a trail that starts with the weather pattern called El Niño.

El Niño starts in the tropical Pacific. Every few years, the ocean there gets unusually warm. This year is one of the biggest El Niños ever. Heat and moisture from it have been swept up into the tropical jet stream and carried eastward.

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Oysters are the sea's version of fine wine: Their taste varies with the water they grow in. And slow-growing oysters from northern waters — like the briny Wellfleets of Massachusetts and the sweet, mild Kumamotos of the Pacific Northwest — are among the most coveted.

That may be changing now. An oyster renaissance in the Southeastern U.S. is underway — from Virginia all the way down to Florida's Apalachicola Bay. The region is adopting the aquaculture that restored a decimated oyster industry in the north, and it has led to a huge boost in oyster production.

Local air regulators are suing Southern California Gas Co. over the massive ongoing natural gas leak near the Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch, seeking millions of dollars in penalties.

The civil suit alleges that the company's negligence led to injuries and has created "an ongoing public nuisance."

Standing on the bank of the Passaic River where it meets the Newark Bay in New Jersey, Oswaldo Avad reels in a small bluefish and a piece of a grocery bag.

"One piece plastic and one fish," Avad says in broken English.

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, children, pregnant women and women who might one day want to be pregnant should not eat any fish from most of the waters in New Jersey. It's safe for men to eat a small amount: about one catfish or one eel per year.

Copyright 2016 KCUR-FM. To see more, visit KCUR-FM.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

San Diego is the largest city in the country to commit to using only renewable energy, a goal that political parties, environmentalists and business groups hope to meet over the next 20 years.

That's right. There is broad consensus to reach this environmentally ambitious plan.

"A thriving business environment is one in which the quality of life is high so that we can attract the best and brightest talent from around the nation [and] around the world," says Sean Karafin, with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

2015's heat and drought in Montana forced many black bear families to forage far from their natural habitat. Quite a few of the wandering bears wound up being shot or hit by cars. And that means there were a lot of orphaned black bear cubs this year.

“We’ve been really, really busy with bears, all throughout the state this year,” says Brady Murphy, a game warden in Augusta, Montana. “We’ve handled a lot of different urban wildlife bear complaints.”

While wildlife in the West is often protected by authorities, the animals' presence is not always appreciated residents.

North Carolina is one of the country's largest poultry producers — and getting bigger. Large-scale chicken farms are spreading across the state. Government regulations have allowed these farms to get much closer to where people live. That's not just a nuisance. Neighbors say it's also a potential health hazard.

Craig Watts is an industrial chicken farmer in Fairmont, N.C. He contracts with Perdue and has raised birds for more than 20 years. Still, he says sometimes it's a struggle to meet the demands of the industry.

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