File Photo / WBFO News

New York retailers have begun giving up single-use plastic bags as the state prepares for the March 1 implementation of a ban aimed at reducing pollution, but many of those who support a move away from plastic are worried the new law doesn't go far enough.

Highly infectious viruses can spread across the world quickly, but our ability to sequence their genome and get a clear diagnosis has historically lagged behind, sometimes taking years. But that’s no longer the case.

Researchers in China were able to sequence the coronavirus genome and send that information to colleagues around the world in less than a month.

“This is amazing,” said Vincent Racaniello, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University and host of the podcast, “This Week in Virology.”

WBFO file photo

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says it has reached agreements with two companies to clean up the former Tonawanda Coke site. Those companies will conduct their respective cleanups through the state's brownfield and superfund programs.

WBFO file photo/Thomas O'Neil-White

The Army Corps of Engineers reports that four of the five Great Lakes were at record-high water levels this week. That has leaders of some Niagara County communities worried about the coming months, when those waters will make their way into an already high Lake Ontario.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Governor Cuomo announced Wednesday that 20 harbors in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River will be dredged over the next two years, including two in Niagara County, as part of an ongoing state project to protect the shoreline from what was again called "the new normal" of lake waters.

Norway's vanishing winter

Feb 11, 2020

In Norway, a land nearly synonymous with cold and snow, winter is changing rapidly, with consequences for both its people and its wildlife.

Oslo, the country’s capital, is experiencing 21 fewer winter days than it did just 30 years ago. And by 2050, scientists expect winter in Oslo will last just half as long as today.

"We say that Norwegians are ‘born with skis on their feet,’ and maybe that expression will change because conditions are not so often very good for going skiing anymore. And people really notice that.”

While many humans live with beloved pets, modern life often alienates us from animals in the natural world. But relationships with wildlife can reveal new levels in our humanity, Richard Louv contends in his new book, “Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives — and Save Theirs.”

In the book, Louv explores the disconnect between humans and wildlife and shares stories of meaningful interactions between people and other species.

Coal-producing regions in both the United States and the United Kingdom have been hit hard economically as coal production has dropped, leaving miners out of work and their communities with shrunken tax bases and fewer paying customers for local businesses.

State funds have been approved as part of a $300 million effort to expand tourism and economic efforts along the Erie Canal.

Bastiaan Slabbers / For WHYY

A survey of drinking water across the country detected some level of PFAS chemicals in all but one sample.

In Philadelphia, two of the most commonly researched PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, were detected at 7.7 parts per trillion and 5.3 ppt — levels far below the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limit, as well as below New Jersey’s more stringent controls.

The EPA currently has a recommended limit of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS combined. New Jersey has established its own maximum contaminant level for the chemicals at 14 ppt for PFOA and 13 ppt for PFOS.

James Morgan / NCPR News

Environmental advocates are commending and challenging the climate initiative budget announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

Google Maps

Two weekends ago, a false alarm was sent to Canadians living within 10 kilometers of the Pickering, Ontario nuclear power generation station, advising of an "incident" on the plant grounds. There was no such incident and officials say the message was inadvertently sent to the public. But what if there ever were a real incident at the plant? It's closer to Western New York than many may realize.

Mike Desmond / WBFO News

While there is a lot of anger at the former Tonawanda Coke plant, opponents are showing some differing points of view on what to do about the environmental mess in the Town of Tonawanda.

File Photo / WBFO News

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says the cleanup of the former Trico site in downtown Buffalo is complete.


The strong winds on Sunday caused a lot of damage to the Williams Opera House in Attica.

The Trump Administration is seeking to exempt numerous infrastructure projects from decades-old federal environmental regulations. Opponents of proposed changes are already vowing to fight them in court.

In a dry region of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, a woman named Valer Clark, from New York City, has had a major influence on land and water preservation.

“There are four great geological forces: There's volcanism, plate tectonics, erosion — and there's Valer,” said Ron Pulliam, an ecologist formerly with the United States Department of the Interior and founder of nonporfit Borderlands Restoration Network. “Valer is one of the forces that has created the landscape around us here.”

Updated at 1:40 E.T.

In one of his most sweeping environmental proposals so far, President Trump says he wants to streamline an "outrageously slow and burdensome federal approval process" that can delay major infrastructure projects for years.

Supporters from the fossil fuel, construction, ranching and other industries welcome the move, which they've long sought. Environmental groups warn it would sideline the climate impacts of highways, pipelines and other projects, and they promise a legal challenge.

Evidence from a new study indicates that supposedly safe levels of air pollution can actually be deadly.

The research, published in a Journal of the American Medical Association, links the deaths of 200,000 military veterans to long-term exposure to ultra-fine particle pollution at levels below current Environmental Protection Agency acceptable limits.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The U.S. and Canadian governments plan to undertake a study to assess Plan 2014, the water management plan used to help regulate the water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

The new Cosmic Crisp apple hits stores, after years of development

Dec 25, 2019

A new variety of apple, the Cosmic Crisp, has hit grocery stores around the country after more than 20 years of development by the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research Commission.

The Cosmic Crisp is a cross-breed of the popular Honeycrisp and the Enterprise. Its breeders hope it can combine the most desired apple qualities: great taste, easy growing and harvesting and a long shelf life.

According to a draft document obtained by the New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to implement a new regulation that would require any study used for EPA health and safety rulemaking to disclose all of its raw data, including confidential medical records.

According to a draft document obtained by the New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to implement a new regulation that would require any study used for EPA health and safety rulemaking to disclose all of its raw data, including confidential medical records.

Daniel Robison / WBFO News

A wide-ranging clean-up of the Great Lakes would receive a major funding boost under the spending bill approved by the House of Representatives Tuesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is releasing some of his proposals for the new year early, and one of them is a plan to ban polystyrene -- a plastic foam commonly known as Styrofoam -- in takeout containers from restaurants and fast-food outlets.

A planned 1,243-mile Pan-Borneo highway connecting the three nations that make up the island of Borneo — Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei — will make it easier for residents and ecotourists to move in and out of its lush landscape, home to several World Heritage sites. But the plan also raises grave concerns that the road will provide easier access to illegal loggers and poachers who want to plunder those natural treasures.

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

In the final push of a two-year-long fundraising campaign, the Western New York Land Conservancy faces a Dec. 31 deadline to raise $138,000 in order to purchase and preserve a private tract of land near East Aurora called Mossy Point.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) have introduced a new draft bill that aims to curb the nation’s overwhelming amount of plastic waste.

On Oct. 29, 2019, a nearly 400,000-gallon oil spill was discovered in the Keystone pipeline system in North Dakota. The spill inundated a wetland with heavy crude oil mined from the Alberta tar sands.

The board that helps regulate the level of Lake Ontario says it will continue to have some flexibility in taking steps that may help ease potential flooding along the shoreline.

The International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board helps control the level of the waterways through a dam on the St. Lawrence.

The board has been allowed to let out more water from Lake Ontario than regulations call for in recent months, because of the high level of the lake. The International Joint Commission is allowing that variance to continue until June of 2020.