BP has agreed to pay $18.7 billion to federal, state and local governments as compensation for the catastrophic 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The proposed settlement ends five years of legal battles between the oil giant and the federal government, the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and some localities. Private suits against the company will continue.

Thirty years ago, the giant kelp forests in the ocean off the coast of California were mostly wiped out by ecosystem imbalances. Now a citizen-led effort has helped to restore them.

Giant kelp is the largest type of seaweed in our oceans. But the fragile ecosystem that supports its growth began to collapse after the area’s sea otters were wiped out in the 1840s. With the sea otters gone, sea urchins flourished and were free to devour all the kelp they could eat.

West side gardeners find hellstrips heavenly

Jul 24, 2015
Elizabeth Licata

Local gardeners have embraced the use of small plots of land that have a devilish name. Hellstrips are green spaces found in front of houses that lie between the sidewalk and the street. WBFO contributor Elizabeth Licata says the mini-gardens have become especially popular on Buffalo's West side.

The $50 billion plan to save Louisiana's wetlands

Jul 19, 2015

Louisiana is in trouble. The Mississippi River Delta is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of 16 square miles a year, some of the fastest land loss on the planet.

The bayou lands are crucial to the nation's fisheries, as well as regional oil and gas supplies. Perhaps ironically, activity by the energy industry is helping to destroy its own infrastructure.

How will the Pacific Northwest change when its glaciers are gone?

Jul 19, 2015

Glaciers set the Pacific Northwest apart and are essential for supplying the region’s drinking water, hydropower and for ensuring the survival of the region's iconic salmon.

But disappearing glaciers make the Northwest uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Washington has more glaciers than any other state, except Alaska. Some 376 glaciers feed the Skagit River. That number alone sets the Evergreen State apart from the rest of the country, but it also makes it uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Fighting invasive plant along waterways

Jul 14, 2015
Photo from the US Army Corps of Engineers

A highly aggressive aquatic plant is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) cause for concern. The group will launch an herbicide attack on the invasive plant called hydrilla during the week of July 27.

A new study that uses blood samples collected more than 50 years ago finds that women who were exposed to the pesticide DDT in the womb have a four-fold increase in breast cancer risk today.

In the wake of record numbers of rhinos slaughtered in 2014 by poachers in South Africa — an estimated 1200 — there is a glimmer of good news: a high-tech anti-poaching technique is stopping the bad guys in their tracks.

The Air Shepherd Initiative uses military-style computer analytics to identify poaching hot spots, and then sends silent drones equipped with night vision to track down poachers.

More New Yorkers are going solar

Jul 7, 2015
Solar Liberty

Solar energy use is heating up in New York State, according to a state report released this week.

WNY Drilling Defense

A local anti-fracking group is prodding Governor Andrew Cuomo to impose a statewide ban on the shipment of explosive oils.  Western New York Drilling Defense member Charley Bowman tells WBFO that

Photo from Legislator Dixon's website

Though the DEC is finally planning to clear the contaminated soil at the former waterfront site of Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon believes a better plan should be developed.

The quest for the 'Asian unicorn'

Jul 5, 2015

Deep in the forests of Southeast Asia lives a creature called the saola. In profile, it looks like a unicorn — and it’s almost as rare as that mythical beast. Little is known about it, except that it and its habitat is quickly disappearing.

The commissioner of the state’s environmental agency is leaving his post, just two days after Joe Martens issued the final environmental impact statement banning hydrofracking in New York. Supporters say the ban is having an effect in other areas of the country.

Sarah Koenigsberg is documenting the efforts of six people across the US who are working to bring the big-tailed and bucktoothed beavers back to lakes and rivers across the country.

Like beavers themselves, the human subjects of Koenigsberg's documentary, The Beaver Believers, are climate change activists.

One year ago this week, at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave his most expansive speech on climate change. Central to his plans are regulations that would rein in CO2 emissions from power plants.

So, one year on, how’s it going?

“I think it’s going well,” says Gina McCarthy, administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the main person in charge of implementing Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Seven leading democratic nations have announced their goal to make the world fossil fuel free by the end of this century.

The news came at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany held earlier this month. The G7 leaders, including those from historically reluctant Japan and Canada, agreed to call for a full decarbonization of the world’s economy by 2100.

Scientists at the UN climate negotiations in Bonn warn that new data about the melting of the Earth’s permafrost, and projections of a “permafrost carbon feedback loop,” suggest that the Earth is reaching thresholds where only a new ice age could reverse the impacts of global warming.

Pork from Lockport pig farm in high demand

Jun 24, 2015

A Lockport farmer has made a name for himself due to the high-quality pork his pigs produce.  WBFO contributor and Buffalo Spree food editor Christa Glennie Seychew visited the Niagara County farm to find out more.

When given an 'oven' — chimps will cook

Jun 23, 2015

It turns out that humans and chimpanzees share more than a common ancestor and a whole lot of DNA. A new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggests that chimps have several of the capacities that allowed early humans to cook their food and evolve into the species we are today.

New music brings conservationist John Muir's story to life

Jun 22, 2015

Of all the figures that helped shape an early appreciation for the American landscape, John Muir is among the most iconic. Now his writing and his life are being celebrated in music and song.

The piece, created by a duo called Chance with two other performers, is called “John Muir — University of the Wilderness,” and uses the conservationist’s own words to tell his story.


Local foodies are getting an unexpected addition to their shopping lists: broccoli grown in Western New York.

Wikimedia Commons/Alvesgaspar

A showdown is looming in Ontario between beekeepers and some farmers and seed companies over the use of a controversial pesticide.

Chris Caya/WBFO news

Cosmetics and other products that end up polluting local waterways could soon be banned from store shelves in Erie County.

Hostas abound at Southtowns garden

May 27, 2015
Elizabeth Licata

Gardening season is in full swing in Western New York. WBFO contributor Elizabeth Licata, the editor-in-chief of Buffalo Spree magazine, recently visited the property of a Boston Hills couple who specialize in growing one plant in particular, the hosta.

Within the past several months the Buffalo area has gone from having too much snow to not enough rain.


Tonawanda Coke Corporation will pay $12 million in what state and federal regulators hail as a "historic" environmental settlement that targets problems at the company's River Road plant.

Western New York Land Conservancy / WBFO News

A stretch of undeveloped land along the Niagara River in Lewiston is about $100,000 away from having a new owner. The Western New York Land Conservancy has nearly the full amount required to buy 29 acres from the Sister of St. Francis, to be maintained as a nature preserve.

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The dredges are coming again to the Buffalo River, as a ten-year, $100 million project to clean the river winds down.

Erie County announces waste dropoff dates

Apr 27, 2015

Erie County residents will soon have two opportunities to safely and legally get rid of some unwanted household items.

Fish stocking effort aims to encourage inland angling

Apr 22, 2015

State environmental conservation and Erie County parks officials marked Earth Day by releasing thousands of fish into Cayuga Creek. At Como Lake Park, the creek was being stocked and officials were promoting fishing at inland waterways.