Posted on July 16, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Changes would slow decades of environmental destruction
FRISCO — After decades of environmental degradation, the federal government has tentatively moved to reduce impacts to surface water and groundwater from coal mining.
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement released the proposed regulations after several rounds of stakeholder sessions. Agency leaders said the new rule would protect about 6,500 miles of streams nationwide over a period of 20 years, “preserving community health and economic opportunities while meeting the nation’s energy needs.”
Guided by the best-available science and utilizing modern technologies, the proposed rule would require companies to avoid mining practices that permanently pollute streams, destroy drinking water sources, increase flood risk, and threaten forests. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment | Tagged: coal mining, Environment, mountaintop removal, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, strip mining, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 14, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Polluters are asking a federal court to roll back protection for important wetlands. @bberwyn photo.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce leads effort to overturn Waters of the U.S. rule
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A new federal wetlands rule that helps protect water quality and important wildlife habitat will face a federal court challenge from groups representing some of the country’s biggest polluters.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Portland Cement Association last week filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, seeking to overturn the so-called Waters of the U.S. rule. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality, wetlands | Tagged: Environment, pollution, water quality, waters of the U.S., wetlands | 3 Comments »
Posted on June 19, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A boreal toad captured as part of a research project in Breckenridge, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.
Warming and tainted waters raise threats to wood frog tadpoles
FRISCO — With more than a third of the world’s amphibian species threatened by extinction, scientists have been try to figure out what’s driving the decline. For some species, the chytrid fungus has been pinpointed as the biggest threat, but a study by scientists from California and Alaska shows that climate change and pollution may also be big factors.
Lab tests showed that wood frog tadpoles were attacked by dragonfly larvae 30 minutes sooner and three times more often in warmer water with a slight increase in copper pollution, than in cooler, copper-free treatments. The attacks either killed the tadpoles directly, left them with injuries that could become abnormalities in later life, or increased levels of stress measured by the behavior of other tadpoles in the tanks. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, global amphibian decline, global warming, water, water quality | Tagged: amphibian decline, copper pollution, endangered species, Environment, global warming, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 9, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Estuaries are important nurseries for marine species, and they are also susceptible to pollution from land-based sources.
‘We are finding hypoxic areas wherever we look’
FRISCO — Nutrient pollution from farming has seeped into nearly every corner of a California estuary, affecting the abundance of fish in the important marine nursery, according to new research by scientists with the University of California at Santa Cruz and The Nature Conservancy.
Lead author Brent Hughes began studying water quality in Elkhorn Slough as a UCSC graduate student. His earlier research showed that virtually every portion of the estuary is adversely affected by high nutrient levels. The pollution stimulates the growth of algae, leading to low oxygen levels when the algae die and decompose.
The new study, based on data collected over the past 40 years, shows how low levels of dissolved oxygen (a condition known as “hypoxia”) affects fish populations in the estuary and beyond. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water, water quality | Tagged: Elkhorn Slough, Environment, fisheries, Monterey Bay, nutrient pollution, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A fracking rig in western Colorado.
Environmental agency found no evidence of widespread impacts
FRISCO — In a draft fracking study that was subject to a political tug-of-war even before it was released, the EPA found no evidence of “widespread, systemic” impacts to drinking water, but identified numerous weaknesses in the fracking process that could lead to contamination. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, water, water quality | Tagged: drinking water, Environment, EPA, fracking, hydraulic fracturing, water pollution, water quality | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 28, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
A new EPA rule aims to define which streams and rivers are protected under the Clean Water Act.
Big loopholes for industry, farms will continue to threaten water quality
FRISCO — After years of wrangling, the EPA has finalized a new rule intended to define which streams are covered under the Clean Water Act. The debate goes back more than a decade to a pair of court rulings that called into question whether smaller tributaries and seasonal streams are subject to federal regulations.
Yesterday’s announcement probably won’t end the fighting — Republicans in Congress have launched a bitter attack on the rule at the behest of big polluters like industrial farms and factories, and some national conservation groups like the Waterkeeper Alliance say the new rule is too weak, and rolls back protection for some streams that were previously covered. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: Environment, EPA Clean Water Rule, water quality, wetlands | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 26, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Atmospheric emissions of hormone-disrupting chemicals found to pollute rivers and streams.
Hormone-disrupting toxins in Missouri streams traced to factory emissions
FRISCO — Scientists say atmospheric releases of hormone-disrupting chemicals may be a big source of of pollution in streams and lakes. After studying water quality near industrial sites permitted to release toxic chemicals into the air, the researchers said they found unexpectedly high levels of BPA in water around those factories.
“This finding suggests that atmospheric BPA releases may contaminate local surface water, leading to greater exposure of humans or wildlife,” said Don Tillitt, adjunct professor of biological sciences at MU, and biochemistry and physiology branch chief with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Columbia Environmental Research Center. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: BPA, Environment, hormone-disrupting chemicals, water quality | 1 Comment »