Environment

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

New York environmental officials are conducting a black bear survey in an effort to set appropriate population levels of the animal for various parts of the state.

File Photo / WBFO News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it is supporting the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's oversight of Tonawanda Coke's shutdown. To date, air monitoring indicates levels set to protect the public have not been exceeded.

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The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation Wednesday announced a $200 million investment in parks and trails in Western New York and Southeast Michigan. The funds will be split evenly between the two regions and are being dedicated in honor of what would have been the 100th birthday of the former Buffalo Bills founder and owner.

It’s the end of summer, a time when many city-dwellers visit local farms to go apple or peach picking. But, if you know what you’re looking for, harvestable food is actually all around us — even in cities.

Larry Master, Keene, NY

You could argue the point, but you probably wouldn't win - leaf season is the best time of year in the North Country. Everything everywhere is gorgeous. The weather is cool, the bugs are mostly gone and it's still daylight for roughly half the day. It's enough to make even a curmudgeon crack a smile. Many more Photo of the Day contributions can be found here.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The coke oven batteries are being slowly cooled, as all facilities at Tonawanda Coke are being shut down.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Tonawanda Coke Corporation, which was found guilty several years ago of violating the federal Clean Air Act and was appealing state effort to revoke its air permits, has submitted a plan to close its operations according to court papers made public Friday.

In Puerto Rico, volunteers and farmers are working together to rebuild after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s small agriculture sector.

Even before Hurricane Maria roared across the island, Puerto Rico imported roughly 85 percent of its food. After the storm, that number shot up to about 95 percent imported food — if you could get it. Road closures and shuttered grocery stores left many Puerto Ricans with no choice but to skip meals and live on canned and shelf-stable food for weeks and months.

Avery Schneider / WBFO News

A public hearing at the State Department of Environmental Conservation office in Buffalo to discuss revocation of Tonawanda Coke’s operating permits ended abruptly Wednesday morning. Within five minutes, lawyers from both sides and a DEC judge agreed to adjourn and pick up again on Friday.

When Christine Nieves and her family emerged from their home after Hurricane Maria struck, the forest outside their house looked like a giant chainsaw had come through, cutting the tops off everything and stripping the sides off the trees.

“It was like a bomb exploded,” Nieves says. “It was like all the movies that you’ve seen of Armageddon, of destruction, of the end of days. And the fact that the communication collapsed meant that we couldn’t hear the government, but we couldn’t hear each other. All we had was the people next to us.”

BQ Energy

Cattaraugus County is continuing its aggressive move into solar energy, with a solar farm planned for an unused section of the Nuclear Fuel Services complex in West Valley.


Many Americans would like to believe that climate change is a problem of the future. But as ocean levels rise, coastal communities from Louisiana to Staten Island to Pensacola, Florida are contending with higher floods, stronger hurricanes and saltwater intrusion. Some are even being forced to retreat to higher ground.

Writer Elizabeth Rush set out to document some of the stories of people caught in these rising tides in her new book, "Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore."

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, the direct hit turned a green island brown. Vast areas of forest were stripped of their leaves and branches. From mangroves to cloud forests, every ecosystem on the island was devastated by the massive storm.

Tuesday was the last full day of the New York Association of Counties fall seminar in Rochester, where weather and climate were the topic of the keynote address.

The keynote speaker was Josh Darr, senior vice president and lead meteorologist at JLT, which does risk assessments.

He says weather isn’t getting worse, but more weather is happening in the extremes.

Darr says counties need to watch weather patterns to decide how to spend their assets -- whether it's people, time or money.

WBFO News file photo

Contractors discovered more radioactive material during construction work at Niagara Falls State Park in mid-September.

A new study finds that global warming will bring with it an increase in agricultural pests, which will lead to significant crop loss across the globe.

Scientists have already raised grave concerns about the effects of climate disruption on global agriculture. Research has shown that rising temperatures can reduce nutrient quality in staple grains, and that droughts and flooding can reduce yields. The recent report adds an additional worry.

The Heinz Awards

A SUNY Fredonia scientist who warned about the environmental threat of microbeads is one of six people being honored with $250,000 cash awards from the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Family Foundation.

File photo

Federal judge William Skretny has set a Friday morning sentencing Tonawanda Coke after ruling the company violated a four-year-old probation agreement.

Adirondack Regional Tourism Council

A hot and humid end of summer could result in dampened fall colors in parts of New York this fall.

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, water utilities were shut down, making access to safe drinking water one of the most pressing issues across the island. So, a citizen science group in Rincón, Puerto Rico, rallied to help test drinking water sources.

Rincón, on the west coast of Puerto Rico, is a mecca for surfers and beachgoing tourists. The town has a quaint square with gourmet coffee shops and a farmers market.

Chris Caya/WBFO News

Tonawanda Coke was back in federal court in Buffalo Tuesday for allegedly violating its consent decree with the Department of Justice which requires the company to comply with emission standards.


BN Waterkeeper

The Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has announced plans to create a hub for the region’s ecotourism called the Waterways Center.


Activists, leaders urge state to shut down Tonawanda Coke

Aug 27, 2018
Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

Concerned citizens joined the leaders of Grand Island and the City of Tonawanda Monday outside the entrance of Tonawanda Coke, urging members of the public to put pressure on state envionmental officials to halt operations at the River Road facility.

Office of Sen. Tim Kennedy

Residents of a Lackawanna neighborhood are demanding a regional railroad company remove the empty rail cars it has parked near their homes. Neighbors and elected officials alike say the rail cars are an eyesore and pose a safety hazard. 

Omar Fetouh / WBFO

Radioactive waste found in soil at the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park has been contained and will soon be removed. That's according to a spokesman for the state parks department.

A Bennington College survey of residents in the PFOA-contaminated village of Hoosick Falls in eastern New York finds higher rates of illnesses among residents exposed to the toxic substance than did a previous study conducted by the New York State Health Department.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Erie County is learning the cost of these increasingly common very heavy rains. The water has to go somewhere and if there isn't drainage, it might wash away a road or cause some other problem.

The Cumming Nature Center is a little oasis about an hour south of Rochester. With miles of quiet trails through swamplands and towering pine trees, it’s a great place to talk about citizen science.

So what exactly does that term mean?

Nathan Hayes, the director of the nature center, says its the “crowdsourcing of scientific information. Multiple people all over the place putting the puzzle pieces together to get the picture.”

There is so much information to collect, Hayes says, that scientists alone can’t do it all. That’s where the rest of us can help. He says people can get involved and collect valuable information wherever they may be.

“We can study -- we should study -- these woods, and not worry about the Amazon. I mean, worry about the Amazon, but you don’t have to go away to contribute to important scientific base of knowledge, you can do it in your backyard.”


Hampshire College, with about 1,400 students in Western Massachusetts, has become the first residential US college with 100 percent solar electricity.

Across the US, colleges and universities are among the institutions leading the fight against global warming, but Hampshire is the first residential campus in the US to go 100 percent solar.

A recent research project from Johns Hopkins University surprised Pennsylvania state experts when it found a correlation between the natural gas fracking boom and an increase in radon levels — but not everyone agrees with its conclusions.

Radon, which cannot be seen or smelled, is the second-biggest cause of lung cancer in the US. It starts out as uranium, found naturally in soil and rocks, but becomes a gas as it decays. When wells are drilled for water, oil or natural gas, the gas can be released and migrate into buildings.

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