As the federal budget battle continues, President Obama outlined on Sept. 19, 2011, a package of ideas designed to cut costs and increase income over the next decade. One element of the $3 trillion package is an $8.5 billion reduction in costs for crop insurance.
NOAA said on Sept. 8, 2011, that the La Niña weather pattern has returned already, after the last La Niña cycle ran from June 2010-May 2011, causing extraordinarily frequent and damaging extreme weather. If typical patterns pan out in the new cycle, that could lead to more drought and fires in the south, and blizzards and flooding in the north.
Based on extensive sampling of drinking water wells around the country by USGS, 19% of all tested wells were contaminated with a substance such as arsenic, uranium, or radon at a concentration that poses a health risk, and about 10% of all wells have more than one such substance.
By Sept. 28, 2011, EPA and the US Dept. of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say they will jointly release proposed standards designed to significantly increase fuel mileage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars, light trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles in model years 2017-2025.
The Green Scissors 2011 report was developed by an unlikely coalition of right- and left-leaning advocacy groups: Heartland Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Friends of the Earth, and Public Citizen. They suggest it's possible to save about $380 billion over 2012-2016 while helping the environment.
Organizations in IL, NY, and TX received substantial funding from the US Forest Service so they can work on projects related to urban forests. The products and efforts are available for use by others around the country, making them of interest to any journalist covering urban environmental or health issues.
The US Dept. of Agriculture will award more than 900 grants worth a total of about $11.6 million to individuals and companies around the country for projects such as installing photovoltaic solar panels for a barn, improving energy efficiency of greenhouses, and installing a geothermal system for an agricultural building.
USDA spokeswoman Isabel Benemelis declined to release the names or locations of the landowners who are likely to be participating in two new SAFE (State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement) efforts, saying journalists have to make such requests via FOIA.
When covering each type of natural disaster, you'll need to dig into a wide range of human, weather/climate, and geography issues to describe accurately to your audience what the trends are, how prevention and emergency responses might be improved, etc. Here are resources for hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, heat waves, drought, blizzards, and more.
Greater sage-grouse are at just 3% of their historical numbers, and warrant protection, according to the Bureau of Land Management. But since other species are in even more dire straits, the birds haven't been declared a threatened or endangered species. The US Dept. of Agriculture money is a work-around aimed at saving the birds and their habitat.