Friday, August 30, 2013

Forecast: Only moderate rise in gasoline prices

OK, that's good news for the gazillions of American suburbanites who commute hours and hours just so they can get enough cash to keep filling it up. The NY Times has this coverage. Actually, if American motorists had to pay what Europeans do, we might finally start using a lot less gasoline to keep ourselves moving.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Loons sound alarm on mercury pollution

Here's a solid bit of reporting on what has emerged as yet another threat to fish-eating birds, especially the Common Loon.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More than Lyme carried by ticks, research finds

I've had several close run-ins with ticks over the years, one of which required a trip to the emergency room to have two of the critters removed from the skin along my waistline. As the globe's climate warms, I think it's reasonable to expect that ticks will continue expanding their ranges northward. Read about the latest research.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vermont Yankee nuclear plant will be shut down

Owner Entergy made the announcement this morning and Vermont media outlets immediately pounced on the company's "news" release. Here's what the Rutland Herald paper has on this matter at this moment. My primary thought is this: Why hasn't a utility shut down a coal-fired power plant? Think of all the megawatts now generated by solar-panel farms and wind turbines. Or are they just for show-and-tell, giving a sprawl developer an excuse to call his new "project" a "green" one?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Carbon dioxide and sea life

The NY Times today: "A new collection of scientific papers provide fresh insights on how the ecology of the oceans is being affected by the global buildup of carbon dioxide released by human activities."
Yes, the research papers found what journalists like to call "mixed results," but the underlying damage is still pretty horrifying, according to this citizen scientist, i.e., me.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Carl Hiaasen on bad water, campaign dollars and other ills

This is a great read from Carl Hiaasen. Proof again that campaign contributions from polluters are paving the way toward no action on pollution. Save the Everglades?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Western Pond Turtle gets population recovery help

Nice feature article right here about a major effort to restore the dwindling Western Pond Turtle to habitat in the Columbia Rive Gorge, Oregon.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The future of clean water

Daily, here in Vermont, I walk pass small oil spills. Their black imprints are everywhere - everywhere cars, trucks, and SUVs roll. When it rains, their presence is also indicated by the bluish sheen they exude. Is this the future of clean water? Read about that question right here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Keystone pipeline could harm wildlife, Interior Department says

The LA Times notes: "A letter contradicts the State Department's draft environmental assessment of the pipeline, saying animals could suffer lasting damage."
Hah, I was present at the very protest rally at which the picture with this article was taken. Yahoo! In any case, my only concern with the findings contained in Interior's letter is this: What took so long?
Interior, in its letter, says, in part: "species displacement, increased predation rates and predator travel lanes, increased nest parasitism, vehicle collisions with wildlife … invasive plant species, increased wildfire risk, lower wildlife density, increase in collisions with power lines and electrocutions on power poles … and increase in poaching."
What is so damn hard to understand about this? Just the roads and other infrastructure that would go in as teh pipeline is built would harm our natural heritage.

The image of shipping coal by train: Dirt, dust, dirt and more dust

That's because coal, even the hard anthracite coal once pulled from the Earth by hardscrabble miners in northeastern Pennsylvania, is dirty, filthy stuff. If the Americans of the Pacific Northwest think they can keep and build on their "green" image by welcoming coaltrains, they are mistaken -- sad and otherwise. Read about that "green" image vs. coal right here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Important Bird Area

I've long been a critic of National Audubon's Important Bird Area, or IBA, program. I was a critic even while serving on the board of Audubon Pennsylvania, that state's state-level project. IBAs, in my view, amount to little more than fund-raising tools and have little to do with real, on-the-ground conservation. Ownership of the land is important, yes. But of greater importance for wild birds, is what kind and quality of habitat exists on the land.I post this photo I took in Plattsburgh, N.Y., as a bit of IBA satire. Nothing more. Think about it for a moment though, and you can't help but wonder just how much of built-America is destined to look like this once the realities of Peak Oil really hit society.

BuREC to cut Powell releases into Meade

The decision, announced today, to cut back on Colorado River water releases from Glen Canyon Dam into Lake Meade, the reservoir created many decades ago by the building of Hoover Dam, is unprecedented and amounts to further the toll that climate change is having on the United States alone. But will Cngress act? Hah.

Crater Lake NP a showplace for mountain pine beetles

That's because the Whitebark Pine, a signature tree of the national park's landscape, is the beetles' target. Yes, Crater Lake is hardly alone in seeing its whitebark pines fall to the killing beetles' lifestyle. And armchair naturalists have got to remember, please, that the beetles' presence does not stop at the park boundary or even at Oregon's boundaries with Idaho, California and Washington. Read about Crater Lake here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wolf decision guided by science, or politics?

Dear Alan:
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS) clumsy handling of its drive to strip federal protections from the gray wolf is making a mockery of its claims to be guided by science. The latest episode is jaw-dropping embarrassing.

After the agency railroaded its plan to a final stage, it announced a slap-dash,fast-track peer review process to be completed in one month. Then last week, PEER revealed that the Service had three of the seven reviewers selected by its contract consultant purged from the panel. The three removed scientists are among the very top wolf experts but the Service barred them because they had signed a letter with 13 other scientists expressing concern about the scientific basis for the federal delisting plan.

This week, FWS cancelled the peer review altogether, refusing to answer media questions beyond issuing a terse statement explaining that what occurred “doesn't meet the standard for independent peer review selections.” 


Since it was FWS which compromised the independence of the panel by screening out potential scientific critics its action is like a lothario spurning his conquest because she is no longer chaste. In any event, the Service is certain to cook up yet another charade that allows it to avoid confronting the issues raised by eminent scientists (whose May 21st letter was never answered).

The transparent official hypocrisy does not stop there. As much as it wanted to, FWS could not strip federal protections from the highly endangered Mexican wolf, with only a mangy handful left in the wild.  But the Service has done everything it can to limit reintroduction of the Mexican wolf in the Southwest. 

Now, an August 1 letter from the Arizona Game & Fish Department confirms another backroom deal in which FWS committed that any Mexican wolves who ventured beyond the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (a sliver of land on the Arizona/New Mexico border) “would be captured and returned.” The letter complains that this “issue of critical importance” was not explicitly written into the final plan despite the “comforting clarification” provided by top FWS officials.

The letter encapsulates what is rotten at FWS – rampant political deal-making that is the exact opposite of promises to rely upon the best available science. Yet, despite a new “Scientific Integrity Policy,” FWS is unwilling to police against even the most blatant abuses. Even in the rare instance thatscientific misconduct is determined, FWS leadership apparently will not act. (The agency is refusing to turn over the findings to PEER but we will continue to pursue them).

Had this occurred under Bush, there would be a huge hue and cry.  Arguably, what is going on now under Obama is far worse. Let Sally Jewell, the new Interior Secretary, know what you think and urge her to step in and stop these appalling shenanigans. 

If you support this work, please let us know.

Pull the plug on Las Vegas water

That's the gist of this report published this morning by the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah. Oh, and Lake Powell is not really a lake at all. It is a reservoir, a fake lake.