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Heavy equipment sits on the edge of a rocky stream bank as part of U.S. Bureau of Land Management-Forest Service reclamation efforts for abandoned oil and gas wells in the eastern U.S. Bureau of Land Management

By Justin Mikulka

In over their heads with debt, U.S. shale oil and gas firms are now moving from a boom in fracking to a boom in bankruptcies. This trend of failing finances has the potential for the U.S. public, both at the state and federal levels, to be left on the hook for paying to properly shut down and clean up even more drilling sites.

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Mark Ruffalo, right, playing attorney Rob Bilott in the film Dark Waters. Credit: Dark Waters

By Sharon Kelly

Dark Waters, the new film starring Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott, is set in the Ohio River Valley city of Parkersburg, West Virginia — a place about 150 miles downstream from where Shell is currently building a sprawling plastics manufacturing plant, known as an "ethane cracker," in Beaver, Pennsylvania.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Watching the sun rise at Cosumnes River Preserve. Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management California / Flickr / Public Domain

By John R. Platt and Tara Lohan

Let's be honest, 2019 was a rough year for the planet. Despite some environmental victories along the way, we saw the extinction crisis deepen, efforts to curtail climate change blocked at almost every turn, and the oceans continue to warm. We also heard new revelations about ways that plastics and chemicals harm our bodies, saw the political realm become even more polarized, and experienced yet another round of record-breaking temperatures.

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A pronghorn runs through the Pinedale Anticline natural gas field in Wyoming in 2008. Theo Stein / USFWS

By Tara Lohan

In January 2015 North Dakota experienced one of the worst environmental disasters in its history: A pipeline burst, spilling nearly 3 million gallons of briny, saltwater waste from nearby oil-drilling operations into two creek beds. The wastewater, which flowed all the way to the Missouri River, contained chloride concentrations high enough to kill any wildlife that encountered it.

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Petrochemical facilities in the Houston ship channel. Roy Luck / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

Prigi Arisandi, who founded the environmental group Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation, picks through a heap of worn plastic packaging in Mojokerto, Indonesia. Reading the labels, he calls out where the trash originated: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada. The logos range from Nestlé to Bob's Red Mill, Starbucks to Dunkin Donuts.

The trash of rich nations has become the burden of poorer countries.

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On September 4, 2019, a loose chain of tropical cyclones lined up across the Western Hemisphere. Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory / NOAA / NESDIS

By Jackie Filson

We're going to make this very simple. These are the 5 non-negotiable policies an ideal climate plan must include:

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Arches National Park. Chris Dodds / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

On Tuesday the Trump administration offered more than 150,000 acres of public lands for fossil-fuel extraction near some of Utah's most iconic landscapes, including Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

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A fuel truck carries fuel into a fracking site past the warning signs Jan. 27, 2016 near Stillwater, Oklahoma. J Pat Carter / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

For more than three decades, the U.S. government has mismanaged toxic oil and gas waste containing carcinogens, heavy metals and radioactive materials, according to a new Earthworks report — and with the country on track to continue drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, the advocacy group warns of growing threats to the planet and public health.

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Irina Vodneva / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By the Numbers

5: Priority recommendations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has implemented since March 2018. Those actions relate to chemical standards, nonpoint water pollution and water pollution assessment. There are, however, 14 priority recommendations that the agency has not acted on. (Government Accountability Office)

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Pexels

Last year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report sounded a global alarm about the need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reach "net zero" levels by 2050. While there have been stark climate warnings for decades, this time the reaction was different. There is an unprecedented global surge of inspired climate activism, and across the country governors and state legislatures are taking up emissions reduction plans. Even some top-tier Democratic presidential candidates are pushing climate policies that would have been mostly unthinkable just a few months ago.

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Scott Pruitt at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

Back in 2008, residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas received a notice in the mail advising them to drink bottled water instead of tap water—a move that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) internal memos at the time described as "one of the largest failures in U.S. history to supply clean drinking water to the public."

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Low-value plastic piles up in Surabaya, Indonesia. Photo by Stiv Wilson

By Tara Lohan

When you throw things away, do you wonder where "away" is? An upcoming film, to be released this fall by the nonprofit The Story of Stuff Project, traces the journey of our plastic products. It covers not just where our plastic goes but also where it comes from.

It's a lesson we need.

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Ruins at Chaco Canyon. pedrik / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pushing ahead with the sale of oil and gas leases on land outside of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and other sites revered by Native American tribes, The Associated Press reported.

The latest listing—which quietly appeared on the BLM website not long after the government reopened after the shutdown—comes about a year after then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke postponed a lease sale in the Greater Chaco Region in response to intense public pressure over cultural and environmental concerns.

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Fracking waste from the Vaca Muerta shale basin in Argentina being dumped into an open air pit. Greenpeace

A major indigenous group in the Argentine Patagonia is suing some of world's biggest oil and gas companies over illegal fracking waste dumps that put the "sensitive Patagonian environment," local wildlife and communities at risk, according to Greenpeace.

The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén filed a lawsuit against Exxon, French company Total and the Argentina-based Pan American Energy (which is partially owned by BP), AFP reported. Provincial authorities and a local fracking waste treatment company called Treater Neuquén S.A. were also named in the suit.

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Smoke billows from one of many petrochemical plants in Louisiana's "Cancer Alley" on Oct. 12, 2013. Giles Clarke / Getty Images

By Sharon Kelly

The petrochemical industry anticipates spending a total of over $200 billion on factories, pipelines, and other infrastructure in the U.S. that will rely on shale gas, the American Chemistry Council announced in September. Construction is already underway at many sites.

This building spree would dramatically expand the Gulf Coast's petrochemical corridor (known locally as "Cancer Alley")—and establish a new plastics and petrochemical belt across states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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Tim Laman / CC 4.0

By John R. Platt

Wildlife didn't have an easy go of it in 2018. We lost the last male northern white rhino, the vaquita porpoise continued its slide toward extinction, poachers kept targeting pangolins and other rare creatures, and through it all the Trump administration kept trying to whittle away at key protections for endangered species.

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Slums in Caracas, Venezuela. The Photographer / Wikimedia / CC0 1.0

By Andrew D. Hwang

Humans are the most populous large mammal on Earth today, and probably in all of geological history. This World Population Day, humans number in the vicinity of 7.5 to 7.6 billion individuals.

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By Wenonah Hauter

The new Food & Water Watch report Take Back the Tap: The Big Business Hustle of Bottled Water details the deceit and trickery of the bottled water industry. Here's one more angle to consider: The bottled water business is closely tied to fracking.

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It's that time, again!

EcoWatch is proud to be a media partner of the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), now celebrating its 42nd year. This year, EcoWatch is honored to be sponsoring Anote's Ark. This documentary spotlights Kiribati, a small remote island facing devastating effects due to climate change.

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