EJToday: Top Headlines
EJToday is SEJ's selection of new and outstanding stories on environmental topics in print and on the air, updated every weekday. SEJ also offers a free e-mailed digest of the day's EJToday postings, called SEJ-beat. SEJ members are subscribed automatically, but may opt out here. Non-members may subscribe here. EJToday is also available via RSS feed. Please see Editorial Guidelines for EJToday content.
Three environmental groups have issued a report detailing some 39 cases across the U.S. where pollution from the ash left from coal-burning electric power plants has cause pollution that often threatens human health. Now as EPA moves to close the electric utilities' longtime exemption from hazardous waste laws, industry lobbyists may have quietly put the fix in at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
"In the rush to develop America's biggest new source of domestic energy, one community is fighting to protect its rural way of life from the environmental strains that accompany shale gas drilling."
"A far-reaching federal program of research and analysis, funded by Congress and designed to help the nation anticipate and temper the mounting conflict between rising energy demand and diminishing supplies of fresh water, has been brought to a standstill by the Department of Energy, according to government researchers involved in the project."
"Concern for the survival of albatrosses, penguins, and other marine birds has drawn scientists from 40 countries to first World Seabird Conference in Victoria. The five-day event opened Tuesday, sponsored by 26 professional seabird groups and societies from around the world."
"The world should safeguard coral reefs with networks of small no-fishing zones to confront threats such as climate change, and shift from favoring single, big protected areas, a U.N. study showed."
"Regulators who are supposed to police offshore oil and gas drilling are spread too thinly, poorly trained and hampered by outdated technology, according to a study by an Interior Department review board appointed after the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico."
"Oxygen levels fell significantly in deep-sea areas of the Gulf of Mexico contaminated by oil plumes from the BP spill. But although researchers found a 20% decline in dissolved oxygen, the drop was not steep enough to create biological 'dead zones' that some scientists feared might form in the wake of the BP disaster." Those were the findings of a government study.
"New oil and gas drilling is probably the most visible activity people associate with threats to groundwater in Texas. But it's not usually the source of known contamination, according to state records. Instead, old or abandoned oil and gas wells, petroleum storage facilities and even existing water wells are most frequently identified as problems."
"An oil and natural gas production platform exploded in flames Thursday morning, sending 13 workers on board plunging into the Gulf of Mexico and touching raw nerves about the safety of offshore energy operations in the wake of the BP spill. But none of the 13 workers sustained serious injury, and by the end of the day Thursday, it appeared catastrophe had been averted and that early comparisons to BP's April 20 disaster were unjustified."
Eight small earthquakes in central West Virginia since April have Chesapeake Energy and the state Department of Environmental Protection discussing the possibility of seismic monitoring near a disposal well for gas-drilling fluids."
"A federal judge has ordered Patriot Coal Corp. to spend millions of dollars to clean up selenium pollution at two surface coal mines in West Virginia. Environmental groups said it was the first time a court had demanded restrictions on selenium, a trace mineral commonly discharged from Appalachian surface mines, where the tops of mountains are blown away to expose coal."
"Pinpointing the amount of oil lingering in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be a source of frustration for journalists and scientists alike, with multiple, contradictory — if not necessarily 'dueling' —research reports having been published on the subject over the last few weeks."
"Chesapeake oysters are a succulent treat that for centuries have been loved almost to extinction. But some scientists and business people are making headway in bringing back the bivalve, for the sake of oyster lovers and the bay."
The application of sewage sludge (renamed "biosolids" by industry PR) to fields has created worries about smell, disease, and toxic contaminants. Federal efforts to track sludge problems have been fragmented, haphazard, and delayed -- which does not inspire confidence in industry-backed federal assurances that sludge is safe. The assurances have preceded the evidence that would support them.