Environment

In another attempt to undo decades of environmental regulations, the Trump administration recently released a revised regulatory interpretation of NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, that will weaken it significantly.

For the past 50 years, NEPA has underpinned virtually all federal environmental law in the United States. It requires that the federal government study the potential consequences of major infrastructure projects such as pipelines, dams and highways.

The field of wildlife tracking is getting a major upgrade thanks to a new initiative called ICARUS. It uses special equipment on the International Space Station to allow researchers to track much smaller species than ever before, including tiny migrating birds and even insects.

Autumn-Lynn Harrison, program manager for the Migratory Connectivity Project at Smithsonian Institution, says the ICARUS tags will include a number of different sensors that collect GPS, accelerometer and temperature data.

WAMC

New York State Thursday adopted maximum contaminant levels for three chemicals in drinking water. Environmental and community advocates wanted to see lower levels adopted, and more PFAS chemicals included, but say it’s a good start. One of the limits is a national first.

New York Now

New York, fearing the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, has decided to pull an item from this year’s ballot that would have asked voters to decide if the state should borrow $3 billion to fund a series of environmental projects related to climate change.

Few people on planet Earth are more deeply involved with missions to search for life elsewhere in the universe than astrobiologist Sarah Stewart Johnson.

Three major environmental groups are demanding that Facebook take steps to curb the spread of racism, extremism and misinformation about climate change on its platform.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and 350.org have joined more than 1,000 other companies in pausing their advertising on Facebook this month as part of the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign.

Most other environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, have yet to take a stand on Facebook’s policies around hate and climate denialism.

GAO

A report from the Government Accounting Office says that the agency that helps regulate water levels on Lake Ontario needs to do a better job communicating with the public.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The table is getting larger on two significant environmental cleanups locally, with community advisory boards being set up.

Smart Citizen Science initiative / Cleveland Water Alliance

A new group along Lake Erie wants to combine big data and smart phones to get the wider community interested in protecting the lake and its tributaries.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is soliciting bids for large-scale renewable energy projects as part of his administration’s aggressive plan to combat climate change. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted it is "the largest ever combined solicitations for renewable energy ever issued in the U.S."

On July 14, 1960, at the age of 26, Jane Goodall arrived in what is now Gombe National Park, Tanzania, to begin her breakthrough study of wild chimpanzees. Soon after, she realized that if chimps were to survive into the future, she had best speak out on their behalf, as well as for the forests and their human stewards.

Now, 60 years on, the iconic scientist, naturalist and activist is still advocating passionately for the conservation of the natural world.

The Environmental Protection Agency has given biotech company Oxitec the go-ahead to test the effectiveness of genetically modified mosquitoes in parts of Florida and Texas.

Oxitec has been developing genetically modified mosquitoes in hopes of reducing local populations of mosquitoes that carry dengue fever, yellow fever and the Zika virus. About 750,000 people die each year from mosquito-borne illnesses, making the insect indirectly responsible for more human deaths than any other animal in the world.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

With the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's public comment period for a Tonawanda Coke cleanup plan ending July 31, the Erie County Legislature's Government Affairs Committee welcomed representatives of organizations with an interest in the process to a Thursday hearing.

The innate curiosity about the natural world that many of us experience as children is often lost on the path to adulthood. Author Brigit Strawbridge Howard found her way back to a childlike fascination with nature with the help of some of the world's most important pollinators: honeybees, bumblebees, and oft-overlooked solitary bees.

The town of Verkhoyansk in Siberia hit a record-high temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit on June 20, the highest temperature ever recorded within the Arctic Circle — and scientists are worried.

“I was shocked at the magnitude of it, but perhaps not necessarily completely surprised to see these types of spikes in temperature because this has been happening for a number of years now." 

Susan Natali, Arctic program director, Woods Hole Research Center

Zoom

Most of the focus has been on COVID-19, but advocates held a virtual meeting Tuesday to bring attention to another aspect of public health: protecting New York’s drinking water.

The city council of Arlington, Texas, took a historic stand last month by refusing to expand a fracking complex located next to a preschool that serves primarily Black and Latino children.

Arlington, which is located between Dallas and Fort Worth in North Texas, is a city of 400,000 people and already home to about 350 natural gas fracking wells. The city lies on top of a formation called the Barnett Shale, which is rich in natural gas.

The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on May 25 touched off massive protest demonstrations around the world against police brutality and systemic racism. The demonstrations have also opened many people’s eyes to another form of racism: the unequal impacts of pollution and climate disruption on people of color.

Related: A global push for racial justice in the climate movement

In South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic and strict government-imposed lockdown have led to an unexpected consequence: a major decline in rhino poaching.

More than 80% of African rhinos remaining in the world are in South Africa, making it the hotspot for rhino poaching. The number of rhinos killed for their horns has been slowly declining over recent years, but the pandemic and lockdown have quelled rhino poaching even more.

US-Mexico border wall threatens sacred Native lands

Jun 22, 2020

The Trump administration’s rush to complete sections of a wall along the US-Mexico border before the November election is threatening to damage and restrict access to sacred and historic Native American sites in the region.

The border wall was a key promise of President Donald Trump’s election campaign, and in his bid to keep that promise, dozens of environmental laws, from the Endangered Species Act to the Clean Air Act, were suspended to fast-track construction.

A new book of poetry by John Freeman, “The Park,” uses the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris as a lens to peer into the paradox of how public green space can provide refuge and access to beauty for some while excluding others.

For the last five or six years, Freeman has spent his summers and winters in Paris. Most of the time, he lives near the Luxembourg Gardens, so it has become “a kind of second home” to him, he said.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The Environmental Protection Agency said its Superfund program is doing well in New York State, including Tonawanda Coke and the 18 Mile Creek area in Niagara County.

Big cat ownership in the US is a big problem

Jun 5, 2020

"Tiger King," the Netflix documentary series about the infamous tiger breeder Joe Exotic, has taken America by storm. But while the show may be entertaining to some, its subject is highly problematic: Private big cat ownership in the US is dangerous and the animals suffer greatly for the success or pleasure of their owners.

Long before COVID-19 disruptions forced dairy farmers to dump millions of gallons of milk into fields and farmers to plow under fields of vegetables, a third of all food produced globally was going to waste, with huge consequences for world hunger and the climate.

In less affluent countries, a lot of food becomes spoiled on the way to market, but in the US and other rich economies, most wasted food is thrown out at home because it has rotted in the fridge or on the counter.

The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that the world is increasingly interconnected. Amid the tragedy of the virus, a top climate diplomat says there is an opportunity to rebuild our economies in ways that are both more equitable and sustainable.

With spring in the air, it’s a great time to get started planting flowers to support native pollinators. In Minnesota, residents can get help with this through a program that pays homeowners to convert their lawns to pollinator-friendly habitats.

Pollinator populations are in sharp decline everywhere. Scientists say as many as 40% of insects may be facing extinction in the coming decades, including critical pollinator species such as bees, which are responsible for pollinating the crops that provide one in three bites of food we eat.

New York State Deaprtment of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Woodlawn Beach is officially once more a state park, with a 10-year lease to the Town of Hamburg ending.


Payne Horning / WRVO News

The International Joint Commission has appointed a 16-member public advisory group to help identify potential improvements to the regulation of Lake Ontario outflows into the St. Lawrence River.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of the US economy, including the food supply.

Dairy farmers are dumping millions of gallons of milk, contract growers are plowing under perfectly good vegetables, and industrial livestock farmers are euthanizing animals in the face of coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants. At the same time, grocery stores are running short of some supplies, including meat.

The Trust for Public Land

Buffalo's parks are getting a good report card from a national group that watches and grades city parks.

Pages