Environmental Policy

Grizzly Bears in the North Cascades
August 22, 2014 09:10 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

The National Park Service this week took an important step toward recovering grizzly bears in the North Cascades in Washington state. The agency says it is beginning a three-year process to analyze options for boosting grizzly bear populations in the area, including the possibility of translocating bears and developing a viable population. "We're happy to see the Park Service begin the long-overdue conversation about bringing grizzly bears back to the North Cascades," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Grizzlies have lost more than 95 percent of their historic habitat in the lower 48 states so we welcome any step that brings them closer to returning to some of their ancestral homes."

Africa Faces Unsustainable Levels of Ivory Poaching
August 20, 2014 06:27 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

When it comes to illegal wildlife trade, one thing has always puzzled me ... Why is the demand for ivory so high? While I may not come across the black-market demands or understand the cultural or historical needs for these rare animal teeth, one thing is easy to see - populations of the African elephant are declining.

Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms
August 18, 2014 09:25 AM - S.E. Smith, Care2

What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.

Update: Ebola virus in Africa, Middle East
August 17, 2014 07:44 AM - Maurice Picow, Green Prophet

The deadly Ebola virus is spreading rapidly in West Africa and the main concern is its spread from its point of origin and be carried possibly to other countries, including the Middle East. With the death toll rapidly nearing the 1,000 mark, West Africa’s latest Ebola virus epidemic is already the worst outbreak of its kind to occur according to the World Health Organization and other international public health bodies.

Water quality alerts do not seem to deter some surfers
August 16, 2014 07:23 AM - Oregon State University

Nearly three in 10 surfers admit they knowingly surf during health advisories — nearly the same amount that chooses not to surf during periods of elevated bacteria. About 40 percent of surfers said they were unaware if they had ever surfed during an active health advisory. The data can help public officials better warn surfers of potential health risks, said Anna Harding, co-author of the study and professor in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. "Beach advisories for bacteria are not having their intended effect of dissuading surfers," Harding said. “The lack of awareness about advisories — and willingness to take risks surfing in water that may be contaminated — suggests the need to educate surfers about behaviors that make them vulnerable to illness."

Herbicide Use To Increase Dramatically
August 15, 2014 10:50 AM - Editor, The Ecologist

The US is poised to 'deregulate' GMO corn, soybean and cotton varieties resistant to the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba. The result will be a big increase in the use of those herbicides, as high as 600%. Only a huge public outcry can now stop the GMO-herbicide juggernaut. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and proposed approval for new GMO corn and soybean varieties genetically engineered to be resistant to the toxic herbicide 2,4-D.

Habitat protection for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo
August 15, 2014 08:10 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect more than a half-million acres of critical habitat across the West for the yellow-billed cuckoo, a songbird that lives along rivers and streams. The bird was proposed for Endangered Species Act protection in October 2013 as part of a 2011 agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled species nationwide. Today’s proposal would protect 546,335 acres of streamside habitat in nine western states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. "This is an important victory not just for yellow-billed cuckoos but for rivers and streams across the West," said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center, which first petitioned for the cuckoo’s protection in 1998.

The power of distributed power!
August 14, 2014 03:03 PM - ELISA WOOD , Clean Techies

Once upon a time when a big power plant retired, it was replaced by one as big or bigger. But not anymore. Energy efficiency is increasingly reducing the need for more power. And when it is needed, distributed generation may be enough. That's how utilities increasingly view the market, according to this year's Strategic Directions: U.S. Electric Industry report issued August 12 by Black & Veatch. The report is based on a survey of 576 utility leaders from May 7 to May 27.

What can we learn from the California Rim Fire?
August 14, 2014 06:42 AM - Crystal Shepeard, Care2

August 17, 2014 will mark the one year anniversary of the Rim Fire in the California Sierra Nevadas. It was dubbed the Rim Fire due to its proximity to the Rim of the World scenic lookout. The third largest wildfire in California’s history, it burned 257,000 acres of land in Stanislaus National Forest and the western edge of Yosemite National Park, in addition to private land in neighboring counties. It cost more than $127 million to contain, and included more than $50 million in property damage. In the early hours of the fire, a deer hunter was rescued. After the hunter was taken to safety by helicopter, investigators interviewed him to see if he witnessed anything. He told them that he had slipped and caused a rock slide that may have ignited the dry vegetation. As time went on, his story changed several times, even blaming it on marijuana growers. Finally, as the fire had been raging for several weeks, he finally told the real story.

The cost of marine debris
August 12, 2014 03:53 PM - NOAA

Marine debris has many impacts on the ocean, wildlife, and coastal communities. A NOAA Marine Debris Program economic study released today shows that it can also have considerable economic costs to residents who use their local beaches. The study found that Orange County, California residents lose millions of dollars each year avoiding littered, local beaches in favor of choosing cleaner beaches that are farther away and may cost more to reach. Reducing marine debris even by 25 percent at beaches in and near Orange County could save residents roughly $32 million during three months in the summer.

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