CRUDE

Oil-spill fine, if any, to be negotiated between Virginia and Dominion Power

Dominion Virginia Power, which last week acknowledged that an oil spill from its Crystal City substation had spread into a Northern Virginia waterfowl sanctuary and the Potomac River, could be fined up to $1.3 million, state officials said Friday.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that it will assume from the Coast Guard the responsibility for overseeing the cleanup of the 13,500-gallon spill, and the agency issued a formal notice of violation. Its spokesman said any fine will have to be negotiated with the party responsible for the spill.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/oil-spill-fine-if-any-to-be-negotiated-between-state-and-dominion-power/2016/02/19/2a2185a8-d745-11e5-b195-2e29a4e13425_story.html

Oil spills’ hidden risks

Cleaning up a marine oil spill is a Sisyphean task. Removing every drop of oil from every inch of ocean and shoreline is impossible. But recent research suggests that even those trace amounts of crude oil left behind after cleanups might cause fatal heart defects in some developing fish.

The study, published in September 2015 in the journal Scientific Reports, examined salmon and herring exposed in laboratory tanks to very small amounts of oil. Seven months after exposure, the young fish swam more slowly than normal, which the authors described as a sign of heart problems. These heart problems, they suggested, might have been the cause of the collapse of the herring population in Alaska’s Prince William Sound four years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

http://scienceline.org/2016/02/oil-spills-hidden-risks/

Is The BP Oil Spill Settlement Money Being Well-Spent?

Some $25 billion is headed to the five Gulf states that were devastated in the 2010 BP oil disaster. Just a fraction of the government fines and court settlements have been paid — but not all of it will end up repairing the damaged ecosystem.

The states are receiving the money from several settlements: There is the big $20 billion civil settlement between the federal government, states and BP. There are also criminal settlements topping $4 billion. Those deals have more oversight than cleanup payments and economic damage claims BP paid directly to states and municipalities.

http://www.npr.org/2016/02/22/467683901/is-the-bp-oil-spill-settlement-money-being-well-spent

Senate to examine BP’s plans to drill for oil in Great Australian Bight

A Senate inquiry will investigate BP’s plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight and examine how a spill could be dealt with.

The company’s application to drill four exploratory wells was knocked back last year by National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, but details of why were not made public. BP quickly vowed to reapply.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/22/senate-to-examine-bps-plans-to-drill-for-oil-in-great-australian-bight

Plains Oil Pipelines in Santa Barbara County Could Switch to State Oversight

Plains All American Pipeline plans to cancel its crude oil tariff through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which means the Santa Barbara County Line 901 — which was shut down after causing the Refugio Oil Spill — could stop being designated as an interstate pipeline and instead be a state-regulated intrastate pipeline if and when it starts operations.

Last week, Plains filed documents with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission saying it intends “to cancel the tariff in its entirety” after purging the last of the oil from its shutdown pipelines, according to FERC, which has authority over interstate oil pipelines and the rates they charge for shipping oil.

http://www.noozhawk.com/article/santa_barbara_county_plains_oil_pipeline_state_oversight

Benicia Planning Commissioners Unanimously Reject Valero’s Oil Train Proposal

Benicia is a small waterside city near San Francisco that is perhaps best known for briefly serving as the California state capital in the 1800s. But last week, six planning commissioners in this quiet community dealt a blow to the oil industry when they unanimously rejected oil giant Valero’s proposal to transport crude to its local refinery in dangerous oil trains. Valero’s plan to receive two 50-tanker oil trains each day at the Benicia refinery is emblematic of broader industry efforts to ramp up transport of oil — including dirty tar sands crude from Canada and explosive Bakken crude from North Dakota — in mile-long trains to refineries along the West Coast.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sierra-club-environmental-law-program/benicia-planning-commissi_b_9278152.html

In Pennsylvania, oil trains are more likely to run through communities of color

You’d think, given the track record of our country’s terrible infrastructure, we might refrain from putting dangerous fossil fuels on top of aging railways — or is that asking for too much? Apparently, it is — and as with most poorly planned risks, the ones who bear the brunt of this danger are people of color and people living in poverty.

Earlier this week, PennEnvironment, ForestEthics, and ACTION United released a new study looking into the proximity of environmental justice communities — communities with a majority of people of color — to the oil train “blast zone” in Pennsylvania. The blast zone is defined as everything within a mile of tracks used for the oil trains routes — the area that would have to be evacuated in the case of an explosion or derailment.

http://grist.org/cities/in-pennsylvania-oil-trains-are-more-likely-to-run-through-communities-of-color/

Pipeline Fights Send Oil Woes Downstream

Within weeks, two low-profile legal disputes may determine whether an unprecedented wave of bankruptcies expected to hit U.S. oil and gas producers this year will imperil the $500 billion pipeline sector as well.

In the two court fights, U.S. energy producers are trying to use Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to shed long-term contracts with the pipeline operators that gather and process shale gas before it is delivered to consumer markets.

http://fortune.com/2016/02/22/oil-pipeline-bankruptcy-midstream-shale/

Foes vow to fight if Bakken pipeline approved

Opponents of the proposed Bakken oil pipeline are pledging an all-out fight if Iowa regulators approve the project, launching a court battle and engaging in community activism that could result in some protesters trying to block construction crews.

The Iowa Utilities Board expects to make a decision in early March on a request by Dakota Access to build the crude pipeline through 18 Iowa counties. The board has been exploring possible terms and conditions for granting a state permit for the pipeline, and supporters and critics say it appears likely that Iowa regulators will approve plans for the project to proceed.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2016/02/22/foes-vow-fight-if-bakken-pipeline-approved/80754032/

Dane County landowners sue Enbridge

Seven Dane County landowners whose property is located next to the Enbridge oil pipeline are suing the company — seeking more insurance to cover potential spills.

The lawsuit filed in Dane County Court last week by Waterloo residents Robert and Heidi Campbell and Tim Jensen, and Marshall residents Keith and Trisha Reopelle and James and Jan Holmes ask the court to enforce Dane County’s conditional use permit that requires $25 million in clean-up insurance.

http://www.hngnews.com/cambridge_deerfield/news/article_7d0508d8-d98b-11e5-bab5-67d7722a179b.html

 

SHALE

Obama Administration Review Ignores Dangers of Offshore Fracking in California

Three weeks after agreeing to take a hard look at offshore fracking’s threats to California’s coast, the Obama administration has released a draft environmental assessment from the Department of the Interior that fails to answer key questions about the risks of this controversial oil-extraction technique.

The draft analysis was required by a legal settlement, filed Jan. 29, that resolved a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit over fracking from offshore platforms in the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel. That settlement required a halt to offshore fracking in federal waters off California, pending Interior’s completion of a final environmental review. But the draft assessment fails to adequately analyze the impacts of water and air pollution from offshore fracking and the increased risk of earthquakes, accidents and toxic spills caused by this inherently dangerous practice.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2016/fracking-02-22-2016.html

NYC Considers Ban On All Fracking Byproduct

New York State banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in 2014, but the city wants to go one step further and ban all fracking byproducts, making it illegal to discharge, dispose, sell, or use waste produced from hydraulic fracking in the city limits.

If you’re wondering why someone would sell fracking waste, it’s not as bizarre as it sounds: in large portions of New York and Pennsylvania, the latter of which has not banned the controversial drilling practice, sanitation departments use a fracking byproduct known as “natural gas production brine” in place of salt to de-ice roads. Contact with fracking byproducts can put people at risk for damage to the heart, brain, liver, and reproductive system, and a bill up for consideration by the City Council would effectively eliminate that risk for city residents.

http://gothamist.com/2016/02/22/fracking_waste_ban.php

Two Pennsylvania families who say fracking fouled water take case to trial

Jury selection began on Monday in a federal lawsuit in which two northeastern Pennsylvania families allege that Cabot Oil & Gas Corp contaminated their well water with methane when it began fracking for natural gas near their homes.

Two couples – Scott Ely and Monica Marta-Ely, and Ray and Victoria Hubert – are the only plaintiffs remaining in a case that initially involved more than 40 people. The rest have settled with Cabot, a major producer in Susquehanna County.

http://news.yahoo.com/two-pennsylvania-families-fracking-fouled-water-case-trial-210922422–finance.html

Can Colorado activists win anti-fracking measures in 2016?

Over the past two years, plummeting natural gas and oil prices have caused energy companies in Colorado to lay off thousands of employees, and put state and local governments in a pinch from declining tax revenue.

But if you thought this might cool the anti-fracking fever on the populated Front Range, you were wrong.

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/157879/can-colorado-activists-win-anti-fracking-measures-in-2016

Fracking pioneer to advise Rubio on energy

One of the early pioneers in the recent boom in hydraulic fracturing is now advising Sen. Marco Rubio on his presidential campaign.

Larry Nichols, the co-founder and former chief of Oklahoma-based oil and natural gas driller Devon Energy Corp., will head a campaign steering committee on energy and be Rubio’s top adviser on the subject, his campaign said.

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/270312-fracking-pioneer-to-advise-rubio-on-energy

Methane Discovered in Drinking Water Near Fracking Wells

A Stanford University scientist has found that people who live near shallowly drilled oil and natural gas wells risk drinking water contaminated with methane.

A potent greenhouse gas, methane is highly flammable.  “The main risk is from chemical spills and poorly constructed wells that leak,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford, who presented his findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C., last week. “Our research shows that most problems typically occur within half a mile.”

http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/02/22/people-living-near-natural-gas-drilling-face-contaminated-drinking-water

Protest Targets Fed Fracking Plan for 5,700 Acres in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas

Conservation groups have filed a formal administrative protest challenging a Bureau of Land Management plan to auction about 5,700 acres of federal fossil fuels in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas for fracking. The protest, filed late Friday, came a day after the U.S. Forest Service, responding to the concerns of conservation groups and local officials, withdrew 31,169 acres of national forest lands in Texas from the same auction, slated for April 20 in Santa Fe, N.M.

“Fracking for federal fossil fuels harms our air, water, land, wildlife and climate,” said Wendy Park of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Failure to notify residents that fracking could destroy their drinking water is yet another reason that President Obama should immediately halt the practice of leasing public lands for oil and gas drilling.”

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2016/keep-it-in-the-ground-02-22-2016.html

Science Board Checks EPA on Fracking Water Study

Last August, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft of their long-awaited study of water pollution from fracking. Readers of the 1000+ page voluminous report were treated to a parade of horribles describing numerous incidents of water contamination from across the country.

Yet the headline from the EPA’s press release belied that conclusion: Assessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources

https://www.earthworksaction.org/earthblog/detail/science_board_checks_epa_on_fracking_water_study#.VsutLOZ0c2g

State Assembly hearing on Porter Ranch gas leak to be held today

A state Assembly committee will hold a hearing today on an urgency bill calling for a moratorium on gas injections at Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility until safety measures are put in place aimed at preventing future gas leaks.

The Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee will take up the bill authored by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, who represents Porter Ranch.

http://www.dailynews.com/government-and-politics/20160222/state-assembly-hearing-on-porter-ranch-gas-leak-to-be-held-today

Feds: Rover pipeline’s impact on habitats could be lessened

Building the Rover natural gas pipeline would harm the environment, but existing laws and regulations, coupled with steps recommended by federal regulators could reduce the impact to acceptable levels.

That’s the conclusion reached by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff in their draft environmental impact report for the proposed pipeline.

http://www.cantonrep.com/business/20160222/feds-rover-pipelines-impact-on-habitats-could-be-lessened

 

RADIATION

TEPCO nears ‘deep freeze’ of soil wall at Fukushima plant

Packed with bulky silver pipes and freezing equipment, Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plant to freeze underground soil at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is ready to start chilling.

On Feb. 19, TEPCO officials showed the interior of the newly built facility, the heart of the project to reduce accumulating radioactive water at the nuclear complex.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602210030

NRA commissioner suggests plan to remove all fuel debris at Fukushima plant may not be best option

A Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioner has suggested that removing all fuel debris from reactors at the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant may not be the best option.

“I wonder if the situation would be desired that work is still underway to extract fuel debris 70 or 80 years after” the nuclear disaster, NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa told reporters Friday.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/20/national/nra-commissioner-suggests-plan-remove-fuel-debris-fukushima-plant-may-not-best-option/#.VsuvB-Z0c2h

Contaminated water leak at Japan’s Kansai EPC’s Takahama-4 nuclear unit

Contaminated water leaked from the primary coolant desalination tower at Kansai EPC’s 870 MW Takahama-4 nuclear reactor Saturday, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said on its website Monday.

The leak occurred when the primary coolant’s temperature and pressure had been increased to commercial operation levels Saturday, the final day of planned four-day coolant system leak tests, according to the Takahama-4 restart schedule on Kansai EPC’s website.

http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/tokyo/contaminated-water-leak-at-japans-kansai-epcs-26375107

Missing radioactive material found in Iraq

“El-Humdelilah.”

That’s what Iraq’s deputy health minister, Dr. Jassim al-Falahi, told CNN on Sunday: “Thank God.”

Al-Falahi’s sigh of relief was over the discovery of some potentially deadly radioactive material that had been missing for months.

“We found the missing radioactive material inside its case with no damages,” he said.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/21/middleeast/missing-radioactive-material-found-iraq/

Winds Blow Small Amount of Radiation Onto Washington Highway

The uncontrolled spread of small amounts of radioactive waste at Hanford after a Nov. 17 windstorm is alarming, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a letter to the Department of Energy.

The high winds pushed specks of contamination beyond Route 4, a public highway in Richland to the Wye Barricade entrance to Hanford.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/winds-blow-small-amount-radiation-washington-highway-37119233

Bacteria Aid in Clean-Up of Uranium Contamination

In research that could help control contamination from the radioactive element uranium, scientists have discovered that some bacteria found in the soil and subsurface can release phosphate that converts uranium contamination into an insoluble and immobile form.

Based on laboratory studies, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers report promising results using bacterial species from three genera isolated from subsurface soils collected at a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Field Research Center site in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Researchers conducted preliminary screenings of many bacterial isolates and found several candidate strains that released inorganic phosphate after hydrolyzing an organo-phosphate source the researchers provided.

http://www.news.gatech.edu/2006/03/30/bacteria-aid-clean-uranium-contamination

Scientists to Discuss Troubled Nuclear Waste Plant in Idaho Falls

Scientists from around the country are meeting in Idaho Falls this week to discuss technical problems plaguing a nuclear waste treatment plant there.

The Post Register reports that the Integrated Waste Treatment was supposed to use steam to transform 900,000 gallons of liquid radioactive waste into a safer powder form. But it has remained in testing mode for several years, unable to begin the treatment that was supposed to be finished in 2012.

http://magicvalley.com/news/local/scientists-to-discuss-troubled-nuclear-waste-plant-in-idaho-falls/article_dcc7c0b2-6159-568b-9250-babeaa214e08.html

Reactor incidents on new nuclear subs double in one year

The Royal Navy’s new nuclear-powered submarines have been plagued by 69 safety incidents and “near misses” over the last four years.

The Astute class of submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde has seen reported reactor incidents at sea or on shore almost double from 12 in 2014 to 21 in 2015. Though the MoD insists that the incidents are all minor, critics warn that they undermine the boats’ reliability and safety.

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14291467.Reactor_incidents_on_new_nuclear_subs_double_in_one_year/

Water intrusion caused electrical fault at Brunswick plant

A leaky electrical panel provided an early drag on the 2016 efficiency of the nation’s second largest nuclear fleet.

Duke Energy’s 11 reactors in the Carolinas achieved a capacity factor of 94.21 percent in 2015, its best mark in more than a decade.

This included a 93.33 percent capacity operation of Brunswick Nuclear Plant — a two-reactor, 1,870-megawatt facility just outside Southport and the state’s oldest nuclear power plant. Boosting Brunswick’s 2015 capacity was a record quarterly generation run of almost 4 million megawatt hours in the second quarter.

http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20160220/NEWS/160219715

 

CLIMATE

NASA: 4 Billion People at Risk as ‘Water Table Dropping All Over the World’

A new analysis reveals that global water scarcity is a far greater problem than previously thought, affecting 4 billion people—two-thirds of the world’s population—and will be “one of the most difficult and important challenges of this century.”

Previous analyses looked at water scarcity at an annual scale and had found that water scarcity affected between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people. The new study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances, assessed water scarcity on a monthly basis, more fully capturing the specific times of year when it could be an issue.

http://ecowatch.com/2016/02/15/nasa-water-scarcity-drought/

This Map Shows Where Climate Change Will Hit Us the Hardest

As global temperatures and sea levels rise due to climate change, the planet isn’t changing in a uniform way. Some areas are more at risk for ecological collapse than others.

Now a team of researchers have created a map identifying the most vulnerable areas on the planet. They analyzed temperature (marked in red on the map below), rainfall (blue) and cloud cover (green) from 14 years’ worth of global satellite data.

http://news.yahoo.com/map-shows-where-climate-change-160100393.html

Why Engineers Need To Be Thinking About Climate Change

As sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more common, evacuation routes in coastal areas with increased flood risk become more important. So does the need for their maintenance.

Transportation engineers must remember to factor climate change into the equation because it can help them anticipate and cope with what could be an overwhelming challenge, the unpredictability of nature. Engineers will need to become more proactive as they assess the potential impacts of climate change and try to anticipate damage to transportation infrastructure assets such as pavement, bridges and culverts.

https://www.insidescience.org/content/why-engineers-need-be-thinking-about-climate-change/3626

For Russian Farmers, Climate Change Is Nyet So Great

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last month was the warmest January on record. That sets off alarm bells for climate scientists, but for the average person living in a northern climate, it might not sound so bad.

That’s what many people are saying these days in Russia, where the expected icy winter has failed to materialize this year – to widespread joy. Of course, any climate scientist will tell you that an unusually warm month — or even a whole warm winter — doesn’t mean much. It’s the long-term trend that counts.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/21/467413500/for-russian-farmers-climate-change-is-nyet-so-great

Canadians divided over human role in climate change, study suggests

A study co-authored by University of Montreal researchers suggests that while 79 per cent of Canadians do not doubt the reality of climate change, 39 per cent don’t believe it is caused by human activity.

The researchers, also from four other universities, including Yale, surveyed a total of more than 5,000 Canadians over the last five years.

“We asked participants if they believed the Earth was getting warmer partly or mostly due to human activities as an indication of climate change,” said lead researcher Matto Mildenberger.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/climate-change-yale-project-montreal-study-1.3458142

Species groups follow patterns reacting to climate change on US northeast shelf

Researchers studying marine fishery species grouped by similar depth and temperature distribution have found that those groups have similar responses to the effects of climate change. Interactions between individual species in those groups, however, may be affected by the amount of available habitat, predator-prey relationships, and competition for food resulting from shifts in range and distribution.

http://phys.org/news/2016-02-species-groups-patterns-reacting-climate.html

Science confirms it: Denial of climate change is all about the politics

Dozens of surveys and studies have attempted to figure out which factors most heavily influence individuals’ beliefs about climate change and their support for climate-friendly policies. But because there have been so many published recently, scientists argue that it’s been difficult to keep up with the overall trends these studies have been revealing.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/22/science-confirms-it-denial-of-climate-change-is-all-about-the-politics/

In Zika Epidemic, a Warning on Climate Change

The global public health emergency involving deformed babies emerged in 2015, the hottest year in the historical record, with an outbreak in Brazil of a disease transmitted by heat-loving mosquitoes. Can that be a coincidence?

Scientists say it will take them years to figure that out, and pointed to other factors that may have played a larger role in starting the crisis. But these same experts added that the Zika epidemic, as well as the related spread of a disease called dengue that is sickening as many as 100 million people a year and killing thousands, should be interpreted as warnings.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/world/americas/in-zika-epidemic-a-warning-on-climate-change.html?_r=0

University of Chicago professors urge fossil fuel divestment over climate change fears

More than 250 professors at the University of Chicago have called on the school to fight climate change by ridding itself of fossil fuel holdings – a gesture that would have exceptional resonance from the former home of Barack Obama and alma mater of current presidential contender Bernie Sanders.

In a symbolic show of solidarity with student activists, professors urged the elite private university to purge its $7.6bn endowment of coal, oil and gas companies, citing the “universal and existential” threat posed by climate change.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/22/university-chicago-divest-fossil-fuel-professors-climate-change

Climate Change: All United States Forests Threatened, Says Study

Throughout the United States, forests are feeling the impact of climate change and increasing drought, as noted by a new study by individuals from 14 research institutions.

“While the effects have been most pronounced in the West, our analysis shows virtually all U.S. forests are now experiencing change and are vulnerable to future declines,” James S. Clark, senior study author and Duke University’s Nicholas Professor of Environmental Science said in a release. “Given the high degree of uncertainty in our understanding of how forest species and stands adapt to rapid change, it’s going to be difficult to anticipate the type of forests that will be here in 20 to 40 years.”

http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/20135/20160222/climate-change-united-states-forests-threatened-study.htm

Most U.S. Flooding Linked to Climate Change

U.S. coastal cities are flooding more often, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. That’s because two-thirds of floods since 1950, measured at 27 tidal gauges around the country, might not have spilled over without a push from manmade climate change, according to a new report by the research-and-news nonprofit Climate Central.

The study is based in part on a new scientific article, published simultaneously in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), which shows that the current pace of global sea-level rise is faster than it’s been in at least 3,000 years.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-22/most-u-s-flooding-linked-to-climate-change

A cyclist’s journey to find stories of climate change

Whether you’re facing hurricanes in the Mississippi Delta, floods in Queensland or rising sea levels in Tuvalu, Devi Lockwood wants to hear your stories. She’s travelling the world by bicycle and boat to record voices from the front lines of climate change.

Devi Lockwood has been on the road since September 2014, when she marched through central Manhattan with an estimated 311,000 others to call for global action on climate change.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/sundayextra/a-cyclists-journey-to-find-stories-of-climate-change/7179590

Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last 28 Centuries

The oceans are rising faster than at any point in the last 28 centuries, and human emissions of greenhouse gases are primarily responsible, scientists reported Monday.

They added that the flooding that is starting to make life miserable in many coastal towns — like Miami Beach; Norfolk, Va.; and Charleston, S.C. — was largely a consequence of those emissions, and that it is likely to grow worse in coming years.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/science/sea-level-rise-global-warming-climate-change.html

 

POLLUTION

Noise Follows Heat as Arctic Wildlife’s Woes Mount

Climate change has caused the Arctic to warm at about twice the rate of the rest of the world, and while reduced levels of sea ice leave smaller habitats for animals such as walruses and polar bears, the open waters make those below the surface increasingly vulnerable to noise pollution.

“The melting ice opens everything up for more shipping, more oil, and gas exploration,” Lindy Weilgart, a bioacoustics researcher at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, told the single-issue news site Arctic Deeply. “At the same time, because of climate change, the storms are getting worse, and so you’ve got more wind and wave noise.”

http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/02/22/arctic-noise-pollution

How Microbes Clean Up Our Environmental Messes

Microbes are nature’s ultimate garbage disposal, devouring the dead, decomposing and inert material that litters Earth’s surface. They’re so good at it, in fact, that humans have taken an increasing interest in coercing them to clean up our environmental messes.

The concept is called bioremediation, and it involves using organisms that either naturally love to eat contaminants or have been genetically altered to give them the taste for toxins. Scientists are designing or deploying microbes to purge sites of contaminants such as PCBs, oil, radioactive waste, gasoline and mercury, and new bioremediation research appears regularly.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/a7176/how-microbes-will-clean-up-our-messes/

Flint lawsuits could cost Michigan taxpayers millions

Flint’s water crisis has unleashed a tsunami of lawsuits that could cost Michigan taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

“The only deep pocket in the vicinity of Flint is the State of Michigan,” said Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor. “This could be a tax liability on the citizens of Michigan. This is the worst nightmare when a bureaucracy goes completely off the rails and makes decisions that cause widespread harm.”

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/02/20/flint-water-crisis-lawsuits/80514276/

Bethel downplays water woes

Town officials notified residents this month that a Bethel reservoir was found in violation of a federal drinking water standard, but they stressed that the number of water customers affected is small and the danger is minimal.

The town’s Department of Public Health recently detected an excessive amount of trihalomethane, a byproduct of disinfection, in the eastern half of the Chestnut Ridge water system, which serves some 1,200 to 1,500 homes — and Town Hall. Although officials say they cannot tell exactly which homes are affected, they insist the water quality has not changed a bit.

http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Bethel-downplays-water-woes-6843047.php

The country with the worst air pollution is not the one you’re thinking of

It’s a never-ending debate in Asia — whose air quality is worse, China’s or India’s? A new study by Greenpeace released Monday is trying to answer that question.

Analysts looked at NASA satellite images and found that measurements of particulate matter — the microscopic particles that invade your lungs and can cause cancer and heart disease — improved impressively in China over the past few years while air quality in India has worsened, with 2015 ranking as India’s most polluted year on record.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/02/22/which-county-has-worse-air-china-or-india/

Portland’s toxic air: What you need to know about pollution hot spots

On Feb. 3, Oregon officials announced they’d found high levels of the hazardous metals arsenic and cadmium in the air near Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland: 159 times the safety goal for arsenic, and 49 times the safety goal for cadmium.

More toxic pollutants, more neighborhood hot spots and more potential sources have emerged since, prompting Oregon’s two U.S. senators to call the situation a “public health emergency.”

http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2016/02/portlands_toxic_air_what_you_n.html

Indoor and outdoor air pollution ‘claiming at least 40,000 UK lives a year’

Air pollution both inside and outside the home causes at least 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, according to new report, which estimates the cost of the damage at £20bn.

The major health impact of outdoor air pollution is relatively well known but the report, from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, also highlights the less understood impact of indoor pollution, as well as the growing evidence of harm to children’s health and intelligence.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/22/indoor-and-outdoor-air-pollution-claiming-at-least-40000-uk-lives-a-year

State works to reduce Fairbanks’ air pollution problem

Air quality regulators in Alaska are working to come up with a plan to address pollution in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The plan comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to change the borough’s pollution designation from moderate to serious in June, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

http://www.adn.com/article/20160222/state-works-reduce-fairbanks-air-pollution-problem

Exposure to air pollution ‘increases the risk of obesity’

Air pollution has already been linked to health problems including asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, heart disease and more. Now, a new study suggests that another ailment can be added to the list — obesity.

A study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that rats who breathed polluted Beijing air gained weight after just three weeks of exposure. They also experienced cardio-respiratory dysfunctions, and decreased metabolic function.

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2016-02/22/exposure-to-air-pollution-obesity

Beijing plans ventilation corridors to curb smog, pollution

Beijing is stepping up measures to fight against smog and pollution by building a web of ventilation corridors as one of its plans to combat climate issues, according to municipal authorities.

“Ventilation corridors can improve wind flow through a city so that wind can blow away heat and pollutants, relieving urban heat island effect and air pollution,” Wang Fei, deputy head of Beijing’s urban planning committee, told Xinhua News Agency.

http://www.cctv-america.com/2016/02/22/beijing-plans-ventilation-corridors-to-curb-smog-pollution

Cutting emissions could prevent nearly 300,000 US air pollution deaths

Reducing emissions in the energy and transport sectors could prevent almost 300,000 early deaths caused by air pollution in the US by 2030, a new study says.

The researchers estimate that saving these lives could benefit the US economy to the tune of $250bn per year – more than it would cost to put the policies in place.

http://www.carbonbrief.org/cutting-emissions-could-prevent-nearly-300000-us-air-pollution-deaths

U.S., Canada adopt Lake Erie pollution target

U.S. and Canadian environmental regulators on Monday agreed to cut the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40%, a target which could cut down on toxic algae blooms like the one that affected the water supply for some 400,000 people in Toledo and southeastern Michigan in 2014.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna made the announcement, saying reducing the amount of phosphorous will shrink low oxygen “dead zones” and maintain a consistent level of algae growth.

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/02/22/us-canada-adopt-lake-erie-pollution-target/80769898/

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