Updated at 2 p.m. ET

The Environmental Protection Agency says Volkswagen intentionally violated the Clean Air Act by using sophisticated software in its diesel-powered cars that detects emissions testing — and "turns full emissions controls on only during the test."

Installed in four-cylinder cars, the software, which the EPA calls a "defeat device" that's meant to trick official tests, allowed diesel Jettas, Beetles and other cars to "emit up to 40 times more pollution" than allowed under U.S. emission standards.

In the five years since earthquakes first began blitzing Oklahoma, state officials have been hesitant to agree with scientists who blamed the oil and gas industry.

The shaking doesn't appear to be slowing, but the regulatory response is ramping up as more state officials acknowledge the link between increased seismic activity and waste fluid pumped into the disposal wells of oil fields.

To show how an oil and gas boom fueled a massive surge of earthquakes, scientists used algorithms, statistics and computer models of fluid flow and seismic energy.

Word that Americans throw away about one-third of our available food has been getting around.

Now there's an official goal aimed at reducing that waste.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency — along with many private-sector and food-bank partners — announced the first ever national target for food waste.

"[We're] basically challenging the country to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tells The Salt.

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Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET

Mount Aso — a volcano on Japan's southern main island of Kyushu — has erupted, spewing black smoke and ash more than a mile into the air, the Japanese Meteorological Agency says.

So far, there have been no reports of injuries or damage, but ash fell as far as 2.5 miles from the crater.

Mount Aso, which stands 5,222 feet high, is the country's largest active volcano.

Copyright 2015 North Country Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/.



Scientists today laid out a truly worst-case scenario for global warming — what would happen if we burned the Earth's entire supply of fossil fuels.

Virtually all of Antarctica's ice would melt, leading to a 160- to 200-foot sea level rise.

"If we burn it all, we're going to melt it all," says Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

In California's blazing hot San Joaquin Valley, millions of pistachio trees are now buried in clusters of small pinkish-green fruits — what would seem like a bumper crop.

But for many growers of the popular nut, the season is shaping into a disaster. Jeff Schmiederer, who farms 700 acres of family-owned pistachio trees on the western side of the San Joaquin Valley, says about 90 percent of the nuts he has sampled from his trees are hollow — what growers call "blanks."

Colstrip, Mont., is true to its name — it exists because of coal.

"Our coal's getting deeper, like everywhere else, because everybody's mining. They're getting into the deeper stuff," says Kevin Murphy, who has worked in the Rosebud Mine for 15 years running a bulldozer in the open pits.

Everything about the mine is enormous, especially the dragline, a machine as big as a ship with a giant boom that extends 300 feet up into the air. The dragline perches on the lip of the pit, scraping away hundreds of feet of rocky soil to reveal the black seam of coal below.

The government has proposed new standards to lower emissions from coal-fueled power plants. But overall, the country is relying less on coal for power. In 40 states, use of coal as a power source (as a share of all power sources) has dropped since 2004. Many of these states are increasingly relying on natural gas instead.

Sport Fishermen Target Cownose Rays In The Chesapeake Bay

Sep 10, 2015
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Acoustic biologists who have learned to tune their ears to the sounds of life know there's a lot more to animal communication than just, "Hey, here I am!" or "I need a mate."

From insects to elephants to people, we animals all use sound to function and converse in social groups — especially when the environment is dark, or underwater or heavily forested.

Diver Dan Abbott unloads his scuba gear on a beach in Monterey, Calif. — his tank, flippers and a waterproof clipboard covered in tally marks. He spent the morning counting fish: pile perch, black perch, blue rockfish and kelp rockfish are among the 150 fish he spotted.

Abbott is diving with a team from Reef Check California, a group of volunteers doing underwater surveys by counting everything in the kelp forest in Monterey Bay.

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People in Denmark are throwing away much less food than they used to - 25 percent less according to recent numbers. Sidsel Overgaard reports one reason is Danes are becoming less intimidated by not-so-perfect food.

A Marquette University molecular biologist is experimenting with growing rice in the Midwest.

In the U.S., most rice is grown in Arkansas and California. But with drought conditions in California and the uncertain impacts of climate change, scientist Michael Schläppi has been trying to grow the water-intensive crop in a Wisconsin lab and field.

Four years ago, Schläppi began stress-testing rice using special climate-controlled growth chambers in his Marquette University lab.

The French secret service frogman responsible for sinking the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in a New Zealand harbor three decades ago has broken his long silence and apologized for the attack that killed a Portuguese photographer working for the environmental activist group.

The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing efforts to clean up an oil spill along a stretch of the Mississippi River near Columbus, Ky., after two tow boats — one carrying about 1 million gallons of a potentially toxic petroleum product — collided earlier this week.

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Some of the world's most ambitious climate change legislation is currently under consideration in America. But the lawmakers in question aren't in D.C. — they're in Sacramento.

California lawmakers are intensely debating far-reaching goals to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill contains three proposals: one to double energy efficiency in buildings, one to derive 50 percent of electricity from renewable sources and one head-turning proposal to cut petroleum use in vehicles by half — all in the next 15 years.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The U.S. Coast Guard has shut down a section of the Mississippi River south of Paducah, Ky., after two tow boats collided, causing an oil spill of unknown size.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said that the collision occurred Wednesday at 8:22 p.m. at Mile Marker 937, just north of Columbus, Ky.

Here is a pop quiz: How many trees are on the planet?

Most people have no idea.

A new study says the answer is more than 3 trillion trees — that's trillion with a T, and that number is about eight times more than a previous estimate.

Nearly 100 pounds of gleaming, fresh-caught California yellowtail and white sea bass arrived at Chef Michael Cimarusti's Los Angeles-based restaurant Providence on Wednesday morning. But this wasn't just another ho-hum seafood delivery.

The pile of fish marks an important step toward a fundamentally different way that prominent chefs are beginning to source American seafood: the restaurant-supported fishery.

The largest fish farm in America could be built 4 miles off San Diego's coast.

Rose Canyon Fisheries could have a footprint on the ocean floor of 1.3 square miles, about the same size as New York's Central Park. The goal is to produce 11 million pounds of yellowtail and sea bass each year.

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At a festival on the Danish island of Fyn, Claus Holm, a fast-talking Danish celebrity chef, is sniffing and mixing into a pot of stew an ingredient he calls "totally forbidden." It's cream, and it expires today.

Danes' increasing willingness to buy and consume items like just-expired dairy products has helped make them, arguably, the world champions in the fight against food waste. According to a recent report from the Danish government, Danes now throw away 25 percent less food than they did five years ago.

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Here's a test of just how President Obama can take an issue when majorities in Congress differ with it.


The issue is climate change, and the president's view, no long-term issue is more vital to address.

The greater sage grouse is a peculiar and distinctly Western bird. It's about the size of a chicken and about as adaptable as the dodo bird, which is to say it's not very adaptable at all — at least not in a human-driven time scale.

In biological terms, the greater sage grouse is perfectly adapted for its habitat: the rolling hills of knee-high silver scrub that's sometimes called the sagebrush sea. It's the oft-forgotten parts of the fast-changing West — The Big Empty, as settlers used to call it.

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