Environmental Health News

A feed of recent articles from environmentalhealthnews.org.

23 January 2018. Crowdsourcing the fight against poaching, with the help of remote cameras

For the last two years, a U.S. non-profit and local partners in South Africa have quietly been catching wildlife poachers using remote cameras connected to a unique cross-continent volunteer monitoring system.

23 January 2018. Pope’s message to Amazonia inspires hope, but will it bring action?

Visit by Pope Francis to Peru brought needed attention to Amazon deforestation and indigenous suffering due to illegal mining, but will the pontiff’s words be a game changer?

23 January 2018. Are scientific tracking tags hurting wild animals?

New research shows telemetry tags may force seals to work harder and swim slower.

23 January 2018. Solar tariff ruling: What it means for the US solar industry

The 30 percent duty will undermine the business case for new solar power development in the United States.

23 January 2018. How engineering Earth’s climate could seriously imperil life

Seeding the atmosphere with sulfur could keep temperature from rising—but once we stop, the backlash could destroy entire species.

23 January 2018. Dredged lake sand could be answer to Region's beach erosion issues

A plan to reverse Lake Michigan beach erosion in Northwest Indiana communities won unanimous approval Monday by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources.

23 January 2018. Researchers will soon predict the snowpack before the snow even falls

NOAA researchers have built a tool that can predict the snowpack eight months ahead of time, before the snow even falls.

22 January 2018. France to revise carbon emissions target after missing 2016 goal

France will revise its carbon emissions target by the end of this year to align it with its pledges in the Paris climate agreement after failing to meet the goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, the ecology minister said on Monday.

22 January 2018. China: oil slick from sunken tanker trebles in size

The spill from a sunken Iranian tanker off China's east coast has more than trebled in size, just over a week after the ship sank in a ball of flames.

22 January 2018. Fisherman's video shows plastic being pulled from inside a fish's stomach

Footage of human rubbish pulled from the stomach of a dead fish highlights the level of pollution in our oceans.

22 January 2018. U.S. top court takes up property rights case involving endangered frog

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed hear a bid by timber company Weyerhaeuser Co seeking to limit the federal government's power to designate private land as protected habitat for endangered species in a case involving a warty amphibian called the dusky gopher frog.

22 January 2018. Switching to electric cars is key to fixing America's 'critically insufficient' climate policies

In order to meet its share of the carbon pollution cuts needed to achieve the 2°C Paris international climate target, America's policies are rated as "critically insufficient" by the Climate Action Tracker.

22 January 2018. Cleaning up air pollution may strengthen global warming

Pollution in the atmosphere is having an unexpected consequence, scientists say—it's helping to cool the climate, masking some of the global warming that's occurred so far.

22 January 2018. Zambia drought could slash 2018 maize output by around 50 percent

Zambia's maize production may drop around 50 percent in the current 2017/2018 crop season if a dry spell which the nation is experiencing continues into next month, an industry body said on Monday.

22 January 2018. Are more deadly mudslides inevitable? Experts say yes

Experts analyzing the catastrophic mudslide that claimed 20 lives here say there's no doubt it will happen again.

22 January 2018. China's war on smog hits fertilizer, pesticide output in December: stats

China's fertilizer and pesticide output fell in December to their lowest on records going back to February 2015, data showed on Monday, as Beijing's war on smog and efforts to ensure winter heating forced producers to suspend operations.

22 January 2018. 'Wasteful stunt': Turnbull government accused of doing too little to save reef

The Turnbull government's pledge of an additional $60 million to help improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef has been dismissed by environmental groups and scientists as insufficient and a "wasteful publicity stunt".

22 January 2018. Peru passes law allowing roads through pristine Amazon rainforest

Pope warned on Friday of threat to Amazon and its peoples but now new roads in border areas could affect five indigenous reserves.

22 January 2018. Can Gov. Inslee deliver America's first carbon tax?

Jay Inslee, Washington state's Democratic governor, is one of America's leading climate evangelists. Now, as he seeks to pass a major policy limiting emissions, he's facing perhaps the biggest political victory of his career, or his sharpest defeat.

22 January 2018. Supreme Court ruling complicates next steps on WOTUS

The text of the Clean Water Act trumped all of the government's arguments in the long-running fight over which courts have jurisdiction over the Obama administration's contentious water rule.

22 January 2018. House Science Committee wants to investigate a government scientist for doing science

Republicans on the House Science Committee are accusing Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, of lobbying.

22 January 2018. Wisconsin tribe files lawsuit over mine permitting on sacred land

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin today filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claiming the agencies have failed to take "primary responsibility" for wetland permitting on a controversial proposed open pit mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The lawsuit is the latest and most aggressive effort by the tribe to prevent the Back Forty Mine—a proposed 83-acre open pit gold, zinc and copper mine in the southwestern corner of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The mine has been weaving through the state's permitting process for years despite opposition from the Menominee and other regional tribes, as well as local residents and environmental groups.

Environmental Health News highlighted the Menominee's fight in the 2016 series "Sacred Water," a national look at how culturally significant water resources get sullied, destroyed and defaced by activities often happening beyond Native Americans' control.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has overseen permitting for the mine thus far. The Menominee lawsuit claims the feds should have wetland permitting authority because it falls under the Clean Water Act, alleging "permitting fill and excavation on the Menominee River and its wetlands cannot be delegated to a state under the Act."

"The Menominee River and its wetlands are interstate federal waters, used in interstate commerce under the law," said Janette Brimmer, an Earthjustice attorney representing the Menominee, in a statement. "So, under the law, this permit cannot be controlled by one state."

In December, the Michigan DEQ accepted the project's wetland permit, filed by Aquila Resources. The Michigan DEQ will consult with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is expected to make a final permitting decision on the mine by mid-2018. Aquila has promised jobs and money to the region—a company-backed study estimated 240 permanent jobs and more than $20 million annually paid in taxes to federal, state, and local government.

The mine, however, would sit on sacred ground for the Menominee tribe—near burial sites, centuries-old raised garden beds, and within 150 feet of the Menominee River, which forms the border of Michigan and Wisconsin.

The mouth of the river is the center of the tribe's creation story.

The tribe and locals also fear pollution from the open pit mine: extracting metals from sulfide ores can produce toxic sulfuric acid, which can release harmful metals and potentially drain into nearby waterways. More than 100 tributaries drain into the Menominee River and the watershed covers about 4,000 square miles. It supports large populations of bass, pike, walleye and spawning grounds for sturgeon.

Menominee tribal chairman Gary Besaw said the river and cultural sites are too important for the permitting to come only from the state of Michigan.

"This permit affects the interests of so many people and the environment in Wisconsin and Michigan, including sites critical to the tribe's culture and history. Therefore, it is important that this process follow the Clean Water Act and not solely be controlled by the State of Michigan," Besaw said in a statement.

The state of Michigan has a public hearing on the mine scheduled tomorrow (Jan. 23) in Stephenson, Michigan.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

22 January 2018. In Cape Town, 'Day Zero' is coming very soon — the day the water runs out

Cape Town, South Africa's second-largest city, is facing its worst drought in a century and could run out of water by April 21 — dubbed "Day Zero" by local authorities.

22 January 2018. Hispanics forgo health services to avoid officials’ attention, advocates say

Legal immigrants fear their information could lead enforcement agencies to undocumented relatives.

22 January 2018. Putting the ‘farm’ back in solar farms: Study to test crop potential at PV sites

Minnesota will be included in a study to help federal researchers test the potential of pollinator-friendly habitat and fruit and vegetable crops around solar arrays.

22 January 2018. PODCAST: Perception reception

Public perception of food safety risk is highly influenced by social media. In a world of infinite information sources, who can you trust when it comes to safely feeding your family?

22 January 2018. EU to lower limit for bisphenol A migration from food packaging

A draft European Commission regulation that lowers the amount of bisphenol A (BPA) allowed to migrate into or onto food from packaging materials is expected to be finalized in the coming months.

22 January 2018. Science in limbo as US government shuts down

Grants are set to dry up, space launches could be delayed and some experiments could be ruined.

22 January 2018. Iran’s environmental body takes unprecedented step in fight against plastic pollution

TEHRAN — In a bid for public engagement Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE) has banned bottled water at the DOE offices and all other organizations affiliated with it nationwide.

21 January 2018. We're hiring! Looking for a Pittsburgh-based environmental health reporter

We're looking to shine a light on the environmental health challenges and opportunities confronting residents of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. If you're capable of writing fearless stories that draw a local and national audience, we want to hear from you.

These stories, while relevant to all residents, should note the disproportionate environmental justice impacts that often fall on communities of color and poor neighborhoods.

Here's what we're looking for:

The reporter must actively engage with local scientists, analysts and evidence-based resources to inform data-driven reporting. That reporting will have a focus developed in collaboration with EHN's senior editor and executive director. It must draw local readers and a national audience.

We're looking for impact and change. Your job is to do enterprising, creative reporting on the winners and losers of environmental decisions in the region and show how those decisions ripple out across the country. We expect you to hold powerful people accountable and expose real-life consequences of policy decisions.

Who we're looking for:

  • A track record of aggressive, investigative reporting that digs into those pulling the levers of power.
  • Experience reporting on the environment or social justice is a plus, but we're really interested in hearing fresh ideas on how to cover this beat.
  • Hunger to have an impact and change lives.
  • Fresh ideas on reaching and building an audience for your work.
  • An ability to work well with others. We're a small but tight group.
  • The unexpected. We don't have all the answers, and if you got some ideas but don't fit the description above, sell us on them.

If this sounds exciting, here's what we need from you:

Send your résumé and a one-page letter explaining why you'd be a good fit. We want your best clips, even if they're not about the region or the environment. And we would like a short memo describing how you would approach the environmental health beat in Western Pennsylvania: What stories might you cover? How would you report them? How would you achieve and measure impact? We have some stories we want you to tell, but we want to hear your ideas.

Send your packet via email to Douglas Fischer, executive director, Environmental Health Sciences, at dfischer@ehsciences.org . We we start screening applications on Jan. 26 , but the search remains open until the position is filled.

The job is full time and includes benefits. The job is based in Pittsburgh or western Pennsylvania. If you're not in the region but willing to move, we're happy to talk.

About Environmental Health News:

EHN.org is an independent, nonprofit news outlet published by Environmental Health Sciences. We're a virtual workplace with offices in Bozeman, Mont., and Charlottesville, Va., and key staff in Virginia, Michigan and Georgia.

We are dedicated to pushing good science and reporting into public policy and public discussion. We are committed to diversity and to building an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds and ages. We especially encourage members of underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities.

For more about EHN, see our "about us page"