Environment

Environment
3:31 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Monterey Bay An 'Ocean Buffet Open For Business' This Spring

Three humpback whales surge upward, gulping the silvery anchovies that have been in abundance in Monterey Bay this spring.
Kate Spencer Fast Raft Nature Tours

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 10:34 am

Monterey Bay on California's central coast rests atop one of the largest underwater canyons in the world. It's deeper than the Grand Canyon, making it possible for lots of ocean life — including humpback whales, orcas, dolphins and sea lions — to be seen extremely close to shore. That is, given the right circumstances. Lately, the right circumstances have converged, and there's more marine and wildlife in the bay than anyone's seen in recent memory.

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The Two-Way
8:44 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

USGS: Okla. At Increased Risk Of 'Damaging Quake'

A map showing seismic activity in Oklahoma since 1970.
United States Geological Survey

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 4:55 pm

The U.S. Geological Survey says the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has gone up dramatically in recent months and that the surge in seismic activity has increased the danger of a damaging quake in the central part of the state.

The USGS and Oklahoma Geological Survey issued a joint statement on Friday, citing a dramatic spike in magnitude-3.0 temblors, especially since October 2013.

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Business
4:53 pm
Sun May 4, 2014

Climate Change Warming Up Business In The Arctic

Originally published on Sun May 4, 2014 6:19 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

And if you're just joining us, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. Climate change is melting polar ice at an alarming rate. While this terrifies many people, especially those living near sea level, some businesses are seeing an opportunity, a big opportunity. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the year-round ice cover in the Arctic is now half the size it was in the 1980s. And previously inaccessible natural resources are now there for the taking.

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The Salt
7:18 am
Sat May 3, 2014

Organic Farming Factions Spat Over Synthetic Substances

The National Organic Standards Board voted to no longer allow farmers to use the antibiotic streptomycin on organic apple and pear trees.
Jeff Haynes AFP/Getty Images

Here in the news biz, we rely on thumbnail descriptions, sparing you the details. We'll tell you, for instance, that organic farmers aren't allowed to use synthetic pesticides and factory-made fertilizer.

In general, that's true. But there's also a long list of pesky exceptions to the rule. And this week, a battle erupted over those exceptions: the synthetic or factory-made substances that organic farmers are still allowed to use because the farmers say they couldn't survive without them.

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Law
3:51 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Texas Family's Nuisance Complaint Seen As Win Against Fracking

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 5:22 pm

A Dallas jury recently awarded nearly $3 million to a family who said they were poisoned by a natural gas drilling operation near their North Texas ranch. The verdict, reached on April 22, is being called a landmark by opponents of the drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

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It's All Politics
6:06 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Nino's No-No: Justice Scalia Flubs Dissent In Pollution Case

Whether the error in Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's recent dissent was originally his fault or a clerk's doesn't make it less cringeworthy.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 7:28 pm

All of us who write for a living know what it's like to completely forget something you wrote 13 years ago.

But when a Supreme Court justice pointedly cites the facts in a decision he wrote, and gets them exactly wrong, it is more than embarrassing. It makes for headlines among the legal cognoscenti.

I'm not sure I rank as one of the cognoscenti, but here's my headline for Justice Antonin Scalia's booboo: "Nino's No-No."

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The Salt
3:07 pm
Wed April 30, 2014

Smiting The Mite To Save The Bees (And The Crops They Pollinate)

Wild bees, such as this Andrena bee visiting highbush blueberry flowers, play a key role in boosting crop yields.
Left photo by Rufus Isaac/AAAS; Right photo courtesy of Daniel M.N. Turner

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 5:05 pm

How do you like them apples, apricots, blueberries, almonds and peaches? They all depend on bees for pollination.

But over the last several years, a massive number of bee colonies have died, putting beekeepers, farmers and scientists in a bit of a panic.

They've come up with a lot of reasons why colonies are collapsing and dwindling.

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NPR Story
5:05 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Concerns Raised Over Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 8:22 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the U.S. may soon be a big exporter of natural gas. Some say that would boost America's economy and its strength on the world stage. But there are also worries that environmental risks presented by this new industry are not being taken seriously enough. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN, BYLINE: Right now the U.S. doesn't export natural gas overseas but companies are eager to convert existing import terminals to export instead in places like Lusby, Maryland, where Sue and Dale Allison live.

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Law
4:24 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

High Court Ruling Revives Law Against Out-Of-State Pollution

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 12:07 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel. Some communities are unlucky recipients of air pollution that blows in from other states and today, those areas got good news by way of a Supreme Court ruling. It revives a major air pollution rule that was knocked down by a lower court. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports it's another big victory for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Around the Nation
4:24 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Farmers And Frackers Wrangle For Water In Shadow Of Calif. Drought

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 7:40 pm

California's drought has developed an interesting relationship between farmers and oilers: California oil wells produce more water than oil, and Chevron filters that water and sells it to a local water district. Interest in the technology is growing in the Central Valley, but high costs and uneasy relations between oil and agriculture might get in the way.

Around the Nation
5:17 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Kansas Town Destroyed By Tornado Spreads Blame For Lack Of Growth

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 2:25 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Around the Nation
4:17 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Between Farmers And Frackers, Calif. Water Caught In Tussle

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 1:08 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Water supplies in California are tight with the state's severe drought and that's putting a spotlight on hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The controversial oil and gas extraction technique uses freshwater, which can mean millions of gallons for each fracking site.

Lauren Sommer of member station KQED reports from California's Central Valley, where tensions between oil and agriculture are on the rise.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEES)

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The Salt
3:34 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Fire-Setting Ranchers Have Burning Desire To Save Tallgrass Prairie

A line of fire turns brown grass into black earth.
Dan Charles/NPR

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 12:02 pm

For the past month, in part of eastern Kansas, the prairie has been burning, as it does almost every spring. On some days, you could look toward the horizon in any direction and see pillars of smoke. The plumes of pollution have traveled so far that they've violated limits for particulates or ozone in cities as far away as Lincoln, Neb.

But here's the twist: Environmentalists have come to celebrate those fires.

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The Two-Way
11:15 pm
Sun April 27, 2014

Deadly Storms Strike Central, Southern U.S.

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 5:31 am

Updated 5:25 a.m. ET Monday:

The death toll in Arkansas from Sunday's tornado is now at 16. President Barack Obama, who's traveling in the Philippines, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency will work with local officials in Arkansas.

Updated 2:30 a.m. ET Monday:

The death toll from Sunday's tornado in Arkansas stands at 11. Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe says five people died in Faulkner County, as well as five people in Pulaski County. One person died in White County.

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The Two-Way
5:51 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

For New York, The '10-Year Storm' Isn't What It Used To Be

Sandbags protect the front of the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 29, 2012, in preparation for Hurricane Sandy.
Richard Drew AP

New York City is 20 times more likely to flood during a storm than it was in the mid-1800s, partly owing to sea-level rise linked to global climate change, according to a new study.

The maximum water height at New York Harbor during storms such as Hurricane Sandy has risen nearly 2.5 feet since 1844, says the study, which was published in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

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Environment
2:46 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

WIR 04/25/2014

More from the Robotics Team from Parkside High.

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The Two-Way
6:15 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Radioactive Leak At U.S. Waste Dump Was Preventable, Report Says

A worker drives an electric cart past air monitoring equipment inside a storage room of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M., shown in this undated photo.
Anonymous AP

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 7:02 pm

A February accident at a nuclear waste dump that resulted in the contamination of 21 workers resulted in part from "poor management, ineffective maintenance and a lack of proper training and oversight," a Department of Energy report concludes.

NPR's Geoff Brumfiel says the report, released Thursday, says the release of radioactive material into the environment from the Feb. 14 accident at the underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M., could have been prevented. The facility is a repository for defense-related nuclear waste.

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It's All Politics
6:18 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Green GOP Group Caught Between 'Rock And A Hard Place'

Volunteer Tom Strain carries debris from an empty lot as part of an Earth Day cleanup effort in Camden, N.J. The Earth Day events celebrated on April 22 promote a sustainable and clean environment.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 7:11 pm

On Earth Day 2014, it wasn't easy being green in the Republican Party. Just ask Rob Sisson, president of ConservAmerica.

ConservAmerica is a membership organization created in 1995 to keep the environmental spirit of GOP President Theodore Roosevelt alive in his party. Back then, the group was known as Republicans for Environmental Protection.

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The Salt
3:26 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Fields And Farm Jobs Dry Up With California's Worsening Drought

Recent rains kept Suzanne and Mike Collins' orange grove alive, but the rainy season is ending. If they don't get federal irrigation water by this summer, their trees will start dying.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 6:47 pm

On a recent afternoon on the main drag of Orange Cove, Calif., about a dozen farm workers gather on the sidewalk in front of a mini-mart.

One man sits on a milk crate sipping a beer. A few others scratch some lotto tickets. Salvador Perez paces back and forth with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans.

If there is no water, there's no work, he says in Spanish.

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Environment
4:16 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Forced To Put Its Nets Away, One Fla. Town Clams Up — Literally

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 7:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Many commercial fishermen in Florida faced a tough decision 20 years ago: retire or find another way to make a living. That reality set in after voters passed a constitutional amendment intended to prevent overfishing. It banned the use of gill nets in state waters. Gill nets are large nets that are suspended vertically in the water. NPR's Greg Allen went to an island where former fishermen have found new careers since the ban.

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Around the Nation
5:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

California's Drought Ripples Through Businesses, Then To Schools

Cannon Michael's farm grows tomatoes, melons and onions, among other crops. This year, however, Michael will have to fallow one-fifth of the land due to the drought
Thomas Dreisbach NPR

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 11:16 am

Cannon Michael runs an 11,000-acre farm in California's Central Valley. His family has been farming in the state for six generations.

Michael's multimillion-dollar operation usually provides a wealth of crops including tomatoes, onions and melons. But recently, he's pretty pessimistic about work.

"It is going to be a year that's probably, at best, maybe break even. Or maybe lose some money," Michael tells NPR's Arun Rath.

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The Two-Way
12:01 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

Ancient Landscape Is Found Under 2 Miles Of Ice In Greenland

A new study suggests the Greenland Ice Sheet did not fully melt during previous periods of global warming — and that it preserved a tundra beneath it.
Joshua Brown University of Vermont

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 1:36 pm

In a surprising discovery, scientists have found evidence of a tundra landscape in Greenland that's millions of years old. The revelation goes against widely held ideas about how some glaciers work, and it suggests that at least parts of Greenland's ice sheet had survived periods of global warming intact.

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Environment
11:40 am
Sat April 19, 2014

Telltale Rainbow Sheens Show Thousands Of Spills Across The Gulf

The 300,000 wells drilled in Louisiana are connected by tens of thousands of miles of pipelines that are vulnerable to leaks, like this one in a coastal marsh.
Gulf Restoration Network

Originally published on Sun April 20, 2014 12:26 pm

Jonathan Henderson of New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network is flying Louisiana's coast looking for oil. As usual, he's found some.

"I just noticed something out of the corner of my eye that looks like a sheen that had some form to it," he says. "We're going to go take a closer look and see if there's a rainbow sheen."

It's a target-rich environment for Henderson, because more than 54,000 wells were planted in and off this coast — part of the 300,000 wells in the state. They're connected by thousands of miles of pipelines, all vulnerable to leaks.

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Environment
4:08 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Pipeline Put Off, As Keystone Review Is Indefinitely Extended

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 7:13 pm

The Keystone XL pipeline remains a major point of contention within the Democratic Party, as green voters pull President Obama one direction and pro-energy senators and labor unions pull the other. It looks as though the "comment period" for the project will be extended, delaying a decision past the November elections.

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The Two-Way
3:58 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Keystone XL Pipeline Review Extended By State Department

A TransCanada Keystone Pipeline pump station operates outside Steele City, Neb. The State Department is extending the review period for the pipeline, given ongoing litigation in Nebraska over the project.
Lane Hickenbottom Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 8:58 am

This post was updated at 6 p.m. ET.

The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The additional time was given "based on the uncertainty created" by an ongoing legal battle in Nebraska, according to a State Department statement.

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The Two-Way
11:41 am
Fri April 18, 2014

China Admits That One-Fifth Of Its Farmland Is Contaminated

Xiang Zhengming plants rice seedlings in a field in southeast China's Fujian Province earlier this month. A newly released report says nearly 20 percent of the country's farmland is contaminated.
Lin Shanchuan Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 7:43 pm

Unbridled industrialization with almost no environmental regulation has resulted in the toxic contamination of one-fifth of China's farmland, the Communist Party has acknowledged for the first time.

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Environment
10:22 am
Fri April 18, 2014

WIR 04/18/2014

Robin chats with the  students of Parkside High's Robotics Team 3389.

This is also the final day of our spring membership drive. Call 410-543-6895 or click the red "Support this station" button at the top of this page to help. Thanks!

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Environment
4:23 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Unlikely Partnerships Spring From California Water Crisis

As California farms struggle amid intense drought, farmers are pressing the federal government to help solve a water crisis.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 7:13 pm

At a recent rally in Fresno County, Calif., farmers in plaid shirts stood side by side with migrant farmworkers in ball caps, holding signs that read "sin agua, no futuro" and "no water, no food." Fresno is the top agriculture-producing county in the U.S., with more than $6 billion in annual sales.

Protesters argued that farms could go out of business without more water, and there would be mass layoffs. That rhetoric may be familiar, but the two groups' alliance is decidedly unusual.

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Environment
6:48 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Why Do Some Clouds Drop Rain, While Others Don't?

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Recent storms in California haven't been enough to save the state from a serious drought. And now, the rainy season is winding down. Scientists are trying to understand why some storms unload lots of rain and snow in California and others don't. As Lauren Sommer reports from member station KQED in San Francisco, there could be a link to dust storms thousands of miles away.

LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: The sky over the Pacific Ocean is looking pretty ominous - big dark gray clouds in the distance.

I think it feels like rain.

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Environment
5:08 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Federal Plan To Save Prairie Chickens Ruffles State Feathers

A male lesser prairie chicken in the Texas Panhandle. The bird's entire habitat includes parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Jon McRoberts AP

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 5:29 pm

It's prairie chicken mating season!

Still, it's tough being a lesser prairie chicken these days. This type of grouse once spanned an enormous area, though now they survive mainly in pockets of Oklahoma and Kansas. Their numbers are plummeting; in 2012, the population dropped by half.

But after they were recently listed as a threatened species by the U.S. government, complaints of federal overreach and lawsuits have followed.

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