Environment: Study shows that even ‘isolated’ wetlands are crucial to protecting water quality

Findings come as EPA edges toward final new clean water rule

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By Summit Voice

Geographically isolated wetlands like prairie potholes and desert playas in the Southwest are critical to water quality and also provide many other ecosystem services — even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to Indiana University researchers.

Continued loss of such wetlands is likely “to cause serious harm to North American waters,” according to John M. Marton, a researcher with the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“Geographically isolated wetlands provide important benefits such as sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation and water-quality improvement, all of which are critical for maintaining water quality,” Marton said, discussing the conclusions of a new article appearing in BioScience. Continue reading

Part of huge environmental settlement to help clean tainted coastal wetlands in North Carolina

Cape Fear, North Carolina, photographed by a NASA satellite.

Cape Fear, North Carolina, photographed by a NASA satellite.

Funding will help restoration of Cape Fear watershed after decades of industrial pollution

Staff Report

FRISCO — Tainted North Carolina wetlands and streams will be restored thanks to a $13 million in cleanup funding under federally administered environmental programs.

The payment, announced by NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in their capacity as natural resource trustees, to repair the damage from 40 years of pollution at Kerr-McGee’s wood treatment facility in Navassa, North Carolina. Another $9 million is on the table. Continue reading

Gulf of Mexico dead zone cleanup target pushed back

States outline small voluntary steps toward new 2035 deadline

A NOAA graphic shows the impacts of nutrient loading by highlight oxygen-starved dead zones in red.

A NOAA graphic shows the impacts of nutrient loading by highlightig oxygen-starved dead zones in red. A task force hopes to shrink the dead zone significantly by 2035.

Staff Report

FRISCO — In a classic example of government double-speak, the EPA announced this week that Mississippi River Basin states want to speed the reduction of nutrients that cause a huge Gulf of Mexico dead zone, but that they’re pushing back their target date for a cleanup by 20 years. Continue reading

Environment: Report spotlights arsenic pollution

Millions of Americans at risk of exposure

Arsenic

Arsenic pollution is widespread across the U.S.

Staff Report

FRISCO — According to scientists, arsenic in groundwater continues to be a major public health threat across the U.S. As many as 8 million people may be at risk of exposure to the toxic substance, mainly because of the lack of any regulations, homeowner inaction and inadequate mitigation measures.

A new report focusing on arsenic contamination wells also helps explain  the geologic mechanisms causing arsenic contamination and come as other studies show that even low doses of arsenic may reduce IQ in children, in addition to well documented risks of heart disease, cancer and reduced lung function. The reports comprise a special section in the journal Science of the Total Environment. Continue reading

Feds reject Oregon’s coastal pollution control plan

Coho salmon (by Timothy Knepp USFWS).

Coho salmon (by Timothy Knepp USFWS).

Logging, erosion from forest roads still seen as threat to salmon

Staff Report

FRISCO — Oregon still isn’t doing enough to protect salmon streams from forest runoff, the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last, explaining their decision to reject a state water quality program.

At issue is Oregon’s coastal nonpoint pollution control program, required of all coastal states. The federal agencies say Oregon’s version doesn’t do enough to reduce impacts from logging and runoff from forest roads built before 1971. Nonpoint source pollution refers to pollution from diffuse sources including natural runoff that picks up and carries pollution into rivers, wetlands and coastal waters. Continue reading

50-foot section of failed Montana oil pipeline was exposed on bed of Yellowstone River near site of spill

Cleanup hampered by icy conditions

Cleanup crews try to contain oil from a pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River, near Glendive, Montana. Photo courtesy EPA.

Cleanup crews try to contain oil from a pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River, near Glendive, Montana. Photo courtesy EPA.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Sonar surveys show that the failed Poplar Pipeline in Montana is exposed on the river bed for approximately 50 feet near the site of a breach that may have spilled as much as 50,000 gallon of oil into the Yellowstone River.

After the spill, oil sheens were spotted on the river as far as 60 miles downstream, according to the EPA. Residents in the town of Glendive, a few miles from the spill, were warned not to drink their tap water after testing found traces of oil in the town’s water supply, but after additional testing, the town’s drinking water system was deemed safe on Jan. 23.

According to the EPA, the bottom of the river bed is about one foot below the pipeline in one area, though the last official inspection of the pipeline in 2012 indicated that it was buried about eight feet below the riverbed. The EPA said the exposed section of pipeline doesn’t explain how the spill happened, but the information will help investigators determine the cause of the breach. More EPA updates at this web page. Continue reading

Anti-fracking groups seek ban in California

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Activists say report downplays threat to water

Staff Report

FRISCO — California regulators this week released the first section of a new environmental review of fracking impacts.  But the study fails to take a hard look at many of the potentially harmful impacts, according to environmental activists.

The review by California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources was released even though state scientists are still six months away from completing their analysis of the risks and harms of the controversial form of oil and gas extraction, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Continue reading

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