Environment

WRVO's Payne Horning

As water levels on Lake Ontario continue to rise, state lawmakers are working on financial assistance to homeowners still assessing flood damage.

Environment New York Research & Policy Center

A new study finds there is still plenty of dirty air around Western New York.


The Goldman Environmental Prize, given out annually, honors an activist from each of the six inhabited continents. The North American Goldman Prize this year has been awarded to 32-year-old mark! Lopez, who helped end decades of environmental abuses by Exide, a company that operated a lead-acid battery smelter in East Los Angeles.

Lopez says he was reminded about the environmental problems Exide had inflicted upon his community after he graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz and went to visit his grandmother.

EPA budget cuts threaten programs to reduce kids' exposure to lead paint

May 9, 2017

Childhood lead poisoning remains a great threat to young children in the US. Nevertheless, the Trump administration proposes to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s lead programs and leave lead-reduction initiatives to the states.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than a fifth of American homes contain enough lead-based paint to create a hazard to young children, whose developing brains can be harmed by even low levels of the toxic heavy metal.

WBFO's Mike Desmond

For the fishing and tourism Village of Olcott on the Lake Ontario shore, Sunday was an opportunity to recover from the terrible weather of recent weeks.

The death and life of the Great Lakes

May 7, 2017

When the St. Lawrence Seaway opened on April 24, 1959, it created a link from the Great Lakes to the sea along the US-Canadian border — the fulfillment of a dream for the heartland of the continent. It also created an ecological nightmare no one anticipated.

Environmental journalist Dan Egan details the history of the Seaway and the modern problems it created in his new book, "The Death and Life of the Great Lakes."

The present partisan divide in America seems more bitter than at any time in recent memory. To try to better understand it, liberal sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild spent five years conducting what she calls an “empathic study” of her political opposites in Louisiana.

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Linda Tanner/Flickr 

The Yurok Tribe, which lives in Northern California near the Oregon border, is losing its way of life, as the annual run of Chinook salmon from the Pacific into the Klamath River is on the verge of collapse.

“The Klamath River is our lifeline,” says tribal chairman Thomas O’Rourke. “We have depended on this river since time immemorial. ... I grew up, born and raised, here on the Klamath River, and as a child there was a lot of salmon. We had runs, when I was a child, that don't exist here anymore.”

Though it may be a worst-case scenario, residents living near a Wheatfield landfill may be unwitting victims of Love Canal. On WBFO's Press Pass, Dan Telvock of Investigative Post discusses the history of the landfill, which at one time contained hazardous material from Love Canal. Now, there are concerns that some of the waste may have migrated onto nearby residential properties.


Russian scientists Sergey Zimov and Nikita Zimov — they're a father-son duo — believe they can slow the thawing of the Siberian permafrost by bringing back grazing animals to a swath of land called Pleistocene Park.

Siberia’s melting permafrost has enormous implications for the Earth’s climate.

Advocates for rebuilding America’s decrepit infrastructure are beginning to worry that the Trump administration will not follow through on its promise to invest $1 trillion in upgrading the nation’s rails, roads, bridges and transit.

Lake Ontario's rising water is furthering Congressman Chris Collins' push for the repeal of an environmental plan adopted late in President Barack Obama's administration.

Will El Niño return in 2017?

Apr 23, 2017

Just months after a powerful El Niño ended its 2015-2016 rampage through global weather systems, meteorologists see indications of another one forming in 2017.

El Niño began affecting the world’s weather in 2015 and ended barely a year ago. Typically, El Niños occur three to seven years apart, but dramatic winter flooding in California followed by unprecedented rains that buried Peru in deadly mudslides may be a signal that El Niño is returning.

Karen DeWitt

Environmental advocates say that New York State officials could do a better job of cleaning up pollution sites caused by the fossil fuels industry that they say in some cases, have dragged on for decades. Cuomo’s environmental aides defend their record.


Even though Western New York is showing big improvement in this year’s ‘State of the Air’ report from the American Lung Association, the region still ranks poorly in nationwide assessments of air pollution.

What kind of interior secretary will Ryan Zinke be?

Apr 16, 2017

When it comes to the federal government’s stewardship of the environment, there is perhaps no more important official than the secretary of the interior. Ryan Zinke, a former Montana Republican congressman, recently took on the job, and he is being watched closely by organizations on both sides of the political divide.

April the Giraffe gives birth... and its a boy

Apr 15, 2017
Animal Adventure Park Facebook page

On Saturday, April's long-awaited baby calf entered the world.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the new US energy secretary. It’s an ironic choice: During his 2012 presidential bid, Perry said the Energy Department could easily be abolished — and some observers have suggested Perry didn’t actually understand the job he was taking when it was offered to him.

Labor anxiety brings challenges to family farms

Apr 12, 2017

Spring is here and fruit farmers throughout Western New York are preparing for crops of everything from apples to Japanese plums. With the new season come job opportunities and new challenges for farmers. WBFO contributor Rich Kellman takes a closer look.


A team of scientists from the US and Mexico is studying the ocean floor near the site of the Ixtoc oil well blowout, in the hope of predicting the future health of marine life in the waters surrounding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

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Steven Melkisethian/Flickr 

A study in the journal Global Challenges suggests that attitudes among climate change deniers are not immutable, even among the most skeptical. The way information is presented can change people's opinions, under certain circumstances.

The new study builds upon a larger body of research that has examined what happens when researchers inform people about the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real.

Decades ago, London suffocated under poisonous smogs. Now, deadly air is back.

Diesel-burning vehicles are causing record levels of pollution linked to thousands of deaths in the UK, and the British government could face fines from the European Court of Justice if the smog is not controlled.

Conditions in London have become so bad that London Lord Mayor Sadiq Khan now suggests children should be given gas masks to protect their lungs.

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

It is that time of year when mother bears kick their young male cubs out of the family cave. Western New Yorkers are being warned, you may see one looking for new territory to claim as his own.

John Morocco

The ash tree is one of the most impressive trees in a forest, park or along a city street. They also have been an essential part of the American sports scene, as the wood in most baseball bats. Now, the trees are known for their stumps.

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Jason Lee/Reuters 

New research suggests that when it comes to air pollution, what goes around comes around.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — toxic air pollutants produced by fuel combustion — are typically treated as a local issue in places with smog and bad air quality. A recent study suggests, however, that these pollutants may actually travel long distances and affect people across the globe.

President Trump signed a sweeping executive order Tuesday that takes aim at a number of his predecessor's climate policies.

The wide-ranging order seeks to undo the centerpiece of former President Obama's environmental legacy and national efforts to address climate change.

It could also jeopardize America's current role in international efforts to confront climate change.

In a symbolic gesture, Trump signed the document at the headquarters of Environmental Protection Agency.

WBFO file photo

The fate of the Northern Access Pipeline Project could be decided within a couple weeks. On Monday, people from across the state who oppose National Fuel’s natural gas pipeline converged on Albany to express their concerns.

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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters 

Shortly after Scott Pruitt was sworn in as the new EPA administrator, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers sent him a letter requesting that the agency re-examine new fuel economy standards set to go into effect in 2025. The letter alleges the rules would lead to extreme layoffs and added expenses in the domestic auto industry.

Dan Becker of the Safe Climate Campaign disagrees. He believes the ambitious mileage requirements are key for US goals under the Paris climate agreement and that weakening them would cost American consumers, while boosting short-term industry profits.

WBFO News photo by Chris Caya

A Climate Change Justice rally was staged in downtown Buffalo Friday and targeted two area business leaders. 

California’s had one of the wettest winters on record — more than twice as much rain and snow as in an average year. That's especially wild since we're six years into a historic drought. But California doesn't have enough dams, reservoirs or other storage. So instead of using it, all that precipitation just joins the Pacific Ocean.

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