Environmental Policy

President Obama Signs Executive Order, Addresses Preparedness for Climate Change Impacts
November 4, 2013 06:00 AM - Editor, ENN

On Friday, President Obama established a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. The Executive Order directs federal agencies to modernize Federal programs to support climate-resilient investments, manage me lands and waters for climate preparedness and resilience, provide information, and plan for climate change related risk.

UK Government Panel weighs in on fracking risks
November 3, 2013 09:04 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

Government health chiefs have admitted there is a risk to public health from exposure to emissions from shale gas extraction under the current monitoring framework. And scientists at Public Health England (PHE) admit that in the absence of regulations in the UK, drilling operators could potentially use a "wide range of chemical, many of which are classified as highly toxic and/or carcinogenic". It confirms that the risks from small-scale drilling for exploratory purposes are "clearly different from the risks from commercial scale operations".

Safe passage at last for the Pronghorn
November 1, 2013 04:56 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

U.S. Highway 191 in Trapper's Point, Wyoming is safer today for motorists and pronghorns alike as a result of a newly built 8-part overpass/underpass system designed to facilitate the travel and migration of local populations of pronghorn, mule deer, moose, elk and other wildlife safely over the highway. While the overpass was completed in time for last year’s migration, the pronghorn were hesitant to use the system last year making researchers nervous. However, this year the pronghorn were less confused by the alteration and used the passages willingly.

Wind Turbine Arrangement: Staggering Results
October 31, 2013 03:48 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Location and organization apparently matters after all! Or at least that is what Cristina Archer, Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware has discovered with regard to wind turbine efficiency. Dr. Archer headed up a team of researchers from UD's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment to conduct studies on the effects of various wind turbine organizational placement patterns. Using a wind farm near Sweden for the basis of their study, they compared existing tightly paced, grid-like layouts to six alternate configurations. They tried multiple spacing distances in various styles of rows: straight arrays, linear but equal offsets and a staggered theatre style where any turbine in front does not obstruct the view from any one behind.

Sandy’s path of destruction felt in the Caribbean too
October 29, 2013 04:17 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Last year at this time much of the United States eastern seaboard was closely monitoring Super Storm Sandy. Hour by hour people watched with horror as she blew across the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas ultimately charging up the Atlantic, swinging west to crash into the Mid-Atlantic states at full force. Damage to New York and New Jersey was extensive to be sure, but the larger populations and greater affluence to the north have largely overshadowed recovery of the Caribbean nations.

Mercury Sediment Carried Forth by California Floods
October 29, 2013 01:59 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Mercury contamination in sediment has been a big concern in the Central Valley lowland areas of California. But associate researcher from the University of California, Michael Singer has unearthed new information and considerations utilizing modern topographic datasets and modeling to track mercury-laden sediment. Singer hypothesizes that the progradation process resulting from 10-year flooding events within the valleys below the Sierra Nevada Mountains are the key to understanding and tracking the presence of mercury. Singer has connected the mercury amalgamation process, which was used to extract gold from the mountains during the 19th century with the current high incidence of mercury in regional delta sediment.

School Bus Company Fined $33K for Excessive Idling
October 29, 2013 09:02 AM - Editor, ENN

Watch out idlers — they're coming for you! Anti-idling laws on the federal, state, and local level are rapidly growing across the US in an effort to cut back on the billions of gallons of fuel that are wasted each year by idling vehicles. While it is difficult to patrol these idlers, especially on a local level, most states have laws against idling, with California taking the lead for the most codes and regulations. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also taking action against companies that violate federally-enforceable motor vehicle idling limits. The latest culprit - North Reading Transportation (NRT), a Methuen company that operates school buses and provides student transportation services in several Massachusetts communities.

The Ozone hole seems to be getting smaller
October 29, 2013 06:48 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Remember the Ozone hole? Decades ago it was a big concern. It was getting bigger and bigger and our emissions of ozone-depleting substances was identified as the main reason. It continues to get smaller as anthropogenic emissions continue to be reduced. It was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data. The ozone hole is a seasonal phenomenon that starts to form during the Antarctic spring (August and September). The September-October 2013 average size of the hole was 8.1 million square miles (21 million square kilometers). For comparison, the average size measured since the mid-1990s when the annual maximum size stopped growing is 8.7 million square miles (22.5 million square kilometers). However, the size of the hole in any particular year is not enough information for scientists to determine whether a healing of the hole has begun.

GM Crops Causing a Stir in Washington State, Mexico, and Hawaii
October 28, 2013 10:30 AM - Sophie Wenzlau, Worldwatch Institute

Courts, councils, and voters across North America are weighing in on genetically modified (GM) crops this month In Washington state, voters are beginning to cast ballots in favor of or opposing Initiative 522, which would mandate that all GM food products, seeds, and seed stocks carry labels in the state.

Kazakhstan nuclear test site clean up success
October 27, 2013 08:32 AM - Paul Lowe / Panos, SciDevNet

A Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan was cleaned up through a collaborative international project that could provide lessons for tackling other dangerous nuclear sites across the globe, a report reveals. The report, entitled 'Plutonium Mountain', documents how international scientific cooperation was important for securing nuclear waste from the site. It was released in August by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, United States. The Semipalatinsk test site, which spans an area about the size of Belgium, lies in a remote part of eastern Kazakhstan. It embodied the post-Cold War risk of 'loose nukes' -- the threat that terrorists or rogue states could obtain nuclear fissile materials — according to the report.

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