Environmental Policy

Hybrid Midsize Sedan?
August 25, 2011 12:43 PM - Kathleen Neil, Contributing Editor, ENN

There seem to be a lot of people looking for a quality, affordable, and safe midsize sedan, but a hybrid midsize sedan? Mingling with everyone at the Toyota 2012 Camry event at Paramount Studios Hollywood yesterday I’d have to say, the mainstream car world just isn’t that concerned about how green their drive is at this point. The economy isn't helping, nor is the way most people are experiencing the modern electronic world as a bad case of button overload; and general interest in iconic brands like a Prius Hybrid or a Chevy Volt is limited. In the last two years my automotive interest has been focused on hybrids and electric vehicles. Yesterday in Hollywood I drove both the hybrid 2012 Camry and the non-hybrid 2012 Camry and I got to look more closely at the interface between the car most people are looking for and the dream of a greener driving world. The comparison was great fun. I admit I'm still more excited about the Plug-in Prius, which is now looking like it will be available starting around spring 2012 in 15 launch states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Availability is planned to open up to all other states in 2013. Much of the innovation in the development of the Prius appears to be showing up in the 2012 Camry Hybrid

Madagascar may authorize exports of illegally-logged rosewood
August 24, 2011 07:44 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

A meeting scheduled for August 25th between rosewood traders, the Ministry of Forest and Environment, and other government officials may determine the fate of tens of millions of dollars' worth of rosewood illegally logged from Madagascar's rainforests parks.

Are Mermaids real? Vampires?
August 23, 2011 12:09 PM - BBC Earth

1. Vampires Tales of vampires which have been the inspiration for horror movies the world over originate from a small flying mammal that weighs less than two ounces. Of the three species of vampire bat the one that has contributed to the misunderstanding and fear of bats more than any other is the infamous common vampire bat. Perhaps an unfair reputation considering that they rarely kill their prey, in fact they can feed without their incision even being noticed due to specially adapted blade like incisors. They are found in the deserts and rainforest of the tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America, making their homes in caves, mines and tree hollows. If they are unlucky in their night-time search for sustenance for two consecutive nights they will die. Luckily for nursing mothers other bats will regurgitate blood meals to them. So how has this inconspicuous creature become the stuff of nightmares? When explorers returned to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, news of the bloodsucking creatures augmented the ancient myths of human vampires. Myths which had come about to explain blood dribbling from the mouths of semi-decomposed corpses. These South American night feeders carry and spread the deadly rabies virus and are considered an agricultural pest due to their paralytic affect on cattle herds. While bats may prefer bovine blood they have been known to attack humans. So beware the reality of the vampire myth! 2. Dragons With a reputation reaching back over 1,000 years, the stories that surround this outsized reptile are recalled by cultures all over the world. For instance, in England, St George’s day is celebrated in honour of the man who saved his town - and a princess - by slaying a dragon. As a result of this story, dragons are now considered to be a key part of England's heritage. Portraying one in bold colours across its national flag, Wales makes it clear that dragons are a part of the country's national heritage. It is believed that the ferocious, red dragon that appears on the flag symbolises the strength and courage of the Welsh people. With such an iconic position within the heritage of two cultures, it is not surprising that the dragon is not as mythical as some may think. At three metres long (9.8ft) and weighing around 70kg (150lb), the Komodo dragon is a living, breathing representative of this family of creatures which many think are only found in fairytales. A member of the monitor group, it is the largest living species of lizard. Although populations are now only found on a few volcanic Indonesian islands, fossil evidence suggests that they evolved in Australia and dispersed westward to Indonesia. Whether we celebrate its strength or revel in man's ability to overcome its fearsome spirit, the dragon has burst forth from the story books and is still alive and well in the 21st century.

Seeking Protection for Coral Sea "Hotspot"
August 23, 2011 08:58 AM - Kieran Mulvaney, Discovery News

The Coral Sea is perhaps best known and celebrated for the area that occupies much of its western edge: the Great Barrier Reef, which fringes the northeastern Australian coast. The world's largest coral reef, it was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1981 in recognition of its extensive biological diversity and richness; six years earlier, the Australian government established the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which regulates some activities (such as fishing) in some areas and bans them altogether in others.

New Jersey DEP Will Provide Green Job Training Through EPA Brownfields Grant
August 19, 2011 02:36 PM - EPA Press Release

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection a $300,000 workforce development and job training grant to help fund DEP's program to recruit, train and place residents of the City of Camden in green jobs assessing and cleaning up brownfields and other contaminated sites.

BrightSource Glad to See Carbon "Tax" Down Under
August 19, 2011 08:56 AM - Susan Kraemer, Green Prophet

Israel's BrightSource Energy is among the large-scale solar developers happy with the Australian government's new carbon "tax" that was just carefully shepherded through parliament by Prime Minister Julia Gillard despite the sort of astroturfing hysteria normally perpetrated only in American media.

Amazing recovery, Blue iguana back from the dead
August 12, 2011 01:15 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) was once king of the Caribbean Island, Grand Cayman. Weighting in at 25 pounds, measuring over 5 feet, and living for over sixty years, nothing could touch this regal lizard. But then the unthinkable happened: cars, cats, and dogs, along with habitat destruction, dethroned Grand Cayman's reptilian overlord. The lizard went from an abundant population that roamed the island freely to practically assured extinction. In 2002, researchers estimated that two dozen—at best—survived in the wild. Despite the bleak number, conservationists started a last ditch effort to save the species. With help from local and international NGOs, the effort, dubbed the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, has achieved a rarity in conservation. Within nine years it has raised the population of blue iguanas by twenty times: today 500 wild blue iguanas roam Salina Reserve. How did they do it? Blue iguanas are raised in captive breeding until they are two years old—big enough to keep feral cats at bay, which were decimating juvenile iguanas. Once they hit two, they are released in the 625 acres of Salina Reserve. Populations are then monitored.

Chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board says plants need to improve safety
August 10, 2011 06:55 AM - Ernest Scheyder, Reuters, WASHINGTON

Chemical makers must do more to prevent careless oversights that have led to a recent increase in fatal errors, the head of a key oversight panel said. The $720 billion chemical industry makes the building blocks for plastics, electronics, furniture, clothing and dozens of other popular consumer products. In the last 20 years, the chemical industry has become safer, Rafael Moure-Eraso, chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), told Reuters. "But we still see very basic things happening, going wrong," he said. "There are errors in the bread-and-butter issues of health and safety."

Why the U.S. Debt Crisis is just the Tip of the Melting Iceberg
August 9, 2011 08:11 AM - Boyd Cohen, Triple Pundit

As many of this column's readers know, I am from the U.S. and have lived in Europe and most recently Canada for the 10 years since getting my Ph.D. at the University of Colorado. While I am no economist (my Ph.D. is in business), I believe that the recent U.S. debt crisis and the complete and utter failure of our politicians from the President on down to find common ground is just the tip of a melting iceberg for the U.S. economy.

CO2 Sequestration
August 5, 2011 12:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a rule to advance the use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies, while protecting American health and the environment. CCS technologies allow carbon dioxide (CO2) to be captured at stationary sources - like coal-fired power plants and large industrial operations - and injected underground for long-term storage in a process called geologic sequestration. The proposal is consistent with recommendations made by President Obama’s interagency task force on CO2 sequestration and helps create a consistent national framework to ensure the safe and effective deployment of technologies that will help position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race. Today’s proposal will exclude from EPA’s hazardous waste regulations CO2 streams that are injected for geologic sequestration in wells designated for this purpose under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA is proposing this exclusion as part of the agency’s effort to reduce barriers to the use of CCS technologies.

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