ENN Weekly: March 14th - 18th
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 51-49 in favor of the Bush administration's proposal to drill in the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (see Senate Votes to Open Oil Drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). Environmentalists decry the likely impact on wildlife, including polar bears, migratory birds, and caribou, while drilling supporters argue that new technologies will be protective of the ecosystem. Research reveals that opening the ANWR to drilling should actually benefit at least one adaptable predator. Read how and why ravens thrive in the oil fields.
Mercury made the news once again, with new orders from the EPA on Tuesday to cut power plant emissions almost in half within 15 years. Related stories at Agency Orders Power Plant Mercury Pollution Cut by Nearly 50 Percent and EPA Issuing New Rules on Mercury Pollution from Power Plants. Long linked to adverse nervous system impacts on fetuses and children, there's new evidence mercury may be a contributing factor in autism, according to a new study from the University of Texas. Read more at Study Links Mercury from Power Plants to Autism.
Several articles this week examined the impact of transportation on the environment. Studies on the use of road salt, for example, show that wildlife, water, and plants all suffer the effects of road salt long after the snow and ice has melted away. Find the whole story at Scientists: Road Salt Harms Environment. More articles on transportation and the environment:
Transporting Food Can Cost the Earth
Truck Emissions Tested in Pilot Study
EU Seeks Ideas on How to Get Airlines to Pollute Less
A bevy of charismatic species made the news over the past week, including manatees, moose, cranes, elephants, and whales. While not as attractive to the eye as some of these headliners, the endangered abalone has gourmet appeal, to the boon of poachers and the chagrin of police in South Africa. Read about the controversy surrounding abalone harvesting at South African Poachers, Police Wage Battle over Threatened Delicacy.
At long last, spring is in the air, and a number of articles reflected the changing season. On one hand, a brutal winter in many parts of the U.S. promises a troublesome spring: Wet Winter Threatens Spring Flooding. On the other hand, heavy rains have brought Death Valley to life with a stunningly colorful show: Rains Prompt Rare Wildflower Display in Death Valley. And with the imminent arrival of spring, thoughts turn to mating, and for one lonely pygmy owl the urge to procreate prompted an unprecedented journey: Female Owl Goes on 150-Mile Trek for Mate.
The week served up some inspirational tales of environmental activism and innovation. At a White House ceremony on Monday, President Bush awarded Rodney Bagley, Irwin Lachman, and Ronald Lewis a National Medal of Technology for their invention -- a device that oxidizes auto emissions. The impact of their ingenuity over the past 30 years has been tremendous; read the all about it at Smog-Busting Inventors Get Nation's Highest Technology Award. Another invention uses a cyclonic air system to dehydrate sludge, yielding an end product that can be used as fertilizer. The details are at Invention Turns Waste into Fertilizer.
Finally, an ex-elephant poacher in Cameroon, formerly known as "the killing machine," has changed his ways. Hearing an American conservationist speak about the value of wildlife a decade ago caused Desire Dontego to second-guess his choice of profession. "I was really shocked," he said. "I felt like a child who has broken a glass and gets beaten for it." Dontego now works on an endangered species protection project. Read his story at Poacher Turns Protector to Save Elephants in Africa
Look to ENN again next week for a complete roundup of the very latest environmental news and commentary.