Regulatory

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.

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.

Mercury in the oceans increasing
August 6, 2014 05:29 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Although the days of odd behavior among hat makers are a thing of the past, the dangers mercury poses to humans and the environment persist today. Mercury is a naturally occurring element as well as a by-product of such distinctly human enterprises as burning coal and making cement. Estimates of "bioavailable" mercury—forms of the element that can be taken up by animals and humans—play an important role in everything from drafting an international treaty designed to protect humans and the environment from mercury emissions, to establishing public policies behind warnings about seafood consumption.

The Danger of Solar "Super-Storms"
August 5, 2014 01:45 PM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Watch out George Lucas fans, a Death Star may be in our horizons — and one would only have to look as far as our nearest stellar neighbor: the Sun. According to Mr. Ashley Dale of the University of Bristol, solar "super-storms" pose an imminent threat to the earth by disabling electricity and communication system — or worse. Thus, the celestial body that illuminates the world may very well be responsible for sending it into darkness. In this month's issue of PhysicsWorld, Mr. Dale writes: "Without power, people would struggle to fuel their cars at petrol stations, get money from cash dispensers or pay online. Water and sewage systems would be affected too, meaning that health epidemics in urbanized areas would quickly take a grip, with diseases behind centuries ago soon returning."

Study predicts climate change and pollution will combine to impact food production
August 2, 2014 09:50 AM - EcoRI News staff

Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution -- specifically ozone pollution, which is known to damage crops. A new study involving researchers at MIT shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.

Drilling in the Dark
August 1, 2014 08:54 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison

As production of shale gas soars, the industry's effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on August 1. The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents. "We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife," says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents." The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well.

Groundwater depletion and western US water supply
July 24, 2014 04:34 PM - NASA and UC Irvine

A new study by NASA and University of California, Irvine, scientists finds more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought. This study is the first to quantify the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the federal water management agency, the basin has been suffering from prolonged, severe drought since 2000 and has experienced the driest 14-year period in the last hundred years.

Wind energy not growing in Europe as quickly as expected
July 23, 2014 11:30 AM - EurActiv

Europe's installed wind capacity will increase at a slower rate to the end of the decade than previously estimated, due to regulatory uncertainty and weak economic growth, an industry association said on Wednesday (23 July). European Union countries will have a combined 192.4 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind energy capacity by 2020, 64% higher than 2013 levels, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said in a report.

Two Years After Coming Into Effect, Australia Kills Carbon Tax
July 18, 2014 05:00 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

In a significant victory for Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the Australian Senate has voted to repeal the country's two-year-old carbon tax. Abbott made dismantling the tax one of the cornerstones of his campaign last September even as Australia remains one of the highest carbon emitters per capita in the industrialized world.

California getting tough with water wasters!
July 16, 2014 08:31 AM - L. CAROL RITCHIE, NPR

Californians who waste water will have to pay up to $500 a day for their extravagance under new restrictions approved Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board. The move comes after the board concluded that voluntary conservation measures have failed to achieve the 20 percent reduction in water use that Gov. Jerry Brown was hoping for, reports The Associated Press. In fact, a survey by the board showed a 1 percent increase in water use in May compared to the same month a year ago.

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