Agriculture

"Dry California Fights Illegal Use of Water for Cannabis"

"NICE, Calif. — An abandoned recreational vehicle was the first clue. In this hamlet two hours north of San Francisco and barely a mile from the largest natural freshwater lake in the state, the trailer sat on a hill, hidden from the main drag. Behind it rose a flimsy fence, tall enough to shield its bounty: 50 marijuana plants in hastily constructed wooden boxes."

Source: NY Times, 08/07/2014

"Behind Toledo’s Water Crisis, a Long-Troubled Lake Erie"

"TOLEDO, Ohio — It took a serendipitous slug of toxins and the loss of drinking water for a half-million residents to bring home what scientists and government officials in this part of the country have been saying for years: Lake Erie is in trouble, and getting worse by the year."

Source: NY Times, 08/05/2014

Industrial Sludge Could Be Headed for Farmland in 7 Virginia Counties

"A Baltimore-based company wants to spread waste called industrial sludge on more than 16,000 acres of farm fields in seven Virginia counties, including Hanover and Goochland, but opponents have raised such a stink that Virginia officials are taking extra time to consider the issue."

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, 08/04/2014

"Hundreds of Thousands Still Under Water Advisory Across Toledo Area"

Several hundred thousand residents of the Toledo, Ohio, area remained Monday morning under an advisory not to drink their tapwater. Labs found microcystin, a toxin produced by blue-green algae, in the water. The algae are blooming in western Lake Erie, from which the city draws its water, because of phosphorus frpm farm runoff, lawn fertilizer, and sewage overflow. At a 3 am news conference, Mayor D. Michael Collins said the advisory would ramain in effect for some hours although tests showed microcystin in the water returning to safe levels. The crisis disrupted people's lives on a massive scale as bottled water was distributed.

Source: Toledo Blade, 08/04/2014

"USDA Overhauls Poultry-Inspection System to Better Fight Pathogens"

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled on Thursday the first major overhaul of the nation's poultry-inspection system in more than 50 years. It said the new system was part of an effort to better fight pathogens while placing more responsibility and trust on companies to protect the quality of their chicken and turkey."

Source: Wall St. Journal, 08/01/2014

Fresh Secret Reports from the Congressional Research Service

Here are some recent explainers of interest to environmental journalists from the CRS, which Congress does not allow to be released to the taxpaying public who paid for them. The WatchDog thanks those who leaked them and the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy for publishing them.

"Neonic Insecticides Widespread in Iowa Waters -- Study"

"A class of insecticides popular with corn and soybean farmers in the U.S. Midwest but feared as a factor in the decline of U.S. honey bee colonies and other crop pollinators, has been found to be widespread through rivers and streams in Iowa, according to a government study released on Thursday."

Source: Reuters, 07/28/2014

"Under Water: The EPA’s Struggle to Combat Pollution"

"For years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been frustrated in its efforts to pursue hundreds of cases of water pollution — repeatedly tied up in legal fights about exactly what bodies of water it has the authority to monitor and protect. Efforts in Congress to clarify the EPA's powers have been defeated. And two Supreme Court decisions have done little to decide the question."

Source: ProPublica, 07/25/2014

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