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Wind farm with solar panels in southern California. 4kodiak / E+ / Getty Images

By Jeff Deyette

Despite the Trump administration's ongoing attempts to prop up coal and undermine renewables—at FERC, EPA and through tariffs and the budget process—2018 should instead be remembered for the surge in momentum toward a clean energy economy. Here are nine storylines that caught my attention this past year and help illustrate the unstoppable advancement of renewable energy and other modern grid technologies.

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The Portland Head Lighthouse in South Portland, Maine. traveler1116 / Getty Images

The city of South Portland, Maine has won an important victory in a three-year legal battle to stop a pipeline company from offloading tar sands crude oil on its waterfront, after a judge ruled Friday that the city's ordinance against the activity was constitutional, The Portland Press Herald reported.

Portland Pipe Line Corp. had wanted to reverse the flow of its pipeline from South Portland to Montreal as demand for foreign crude fell and Canadian tar sands production took off, but the city council blocked that move with a "Clear Skies" ordinance in 2014.

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Seal #108, left, and a small pup named "Premie" swim up to the edge of their pool for their 3 p.m. feeding at the Marine Mammals of Maine rehabilitation center on Aug. 14. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Researchers think a mysterious die-off of seals along the Maine coast could be linked to chemical pollution, the Portland Press Herald reported Sunday.

More than 400 dead or stranded seals have washed up on the Maine coast so far this year, more than in any of the past seven years, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) statistics.

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Mars Hill Wind Farm in Maine. Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Paul R. LePage, who once called wind power a "boutique energy source," has placed a moratorium on permits for most new wind energy projects in Maine, saying it could harm the state's tourism.

As it happens, LePage, a Republican, is the sole Atlantic Coast governor who favors the Trump administration's proposal to open nearly all of America's coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling.

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This lucky seal pup was rescued from a Maine highway. Would you know what to do if you found an ocean animal in trouble? National Marine Life Center

By Amy McDermott

At 5 a.m. one morning last spring, a baby seal wandered into the sleepy town of Bar Harbor, Maine. The little pup waddled off the beach and onto the highway. Locals called the police. The police called Rosemary Seton.

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In this video posted to Facebook by Krystal Gamage, two fishermen off the coast of Owls Head, Maine, find a baby seal trapped in plastic fish netting. What happens next is worth watching until the end.

Even in the waters of the Antarctic, long thought to be pristine, plastic pollution has recently been measured at shockingly high levels.

Wouldn't it be great if every story about plastic pollution had a happy ending?

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Coyote Peterson and the Brave Wilderness team take kayaks to an island off the coast of Maine, where an abandoned fortress from 1858 now displays a sign reading, "ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK."

"There's always a chance that something interesting can be found," Peterson testifies as they approach Fort Gorges. Upon entering the huge castle, he exclaims, "It feels like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!"

Check out the video above, gone viral with more than 3.1 million views. Find out out what Peterson means when he observes, "It's like a whole ecosystem," and discover how you too can visit this wild place!

Katahdin Woods and Waters. National Parks Conservation Association.

Looks like you'll have to trust your map if you want to find the newly designated Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

Gov. Paul LePage has refused to put up any official signs along the four main roads to the 87,500-acre preserve, which is on the list of 27 national monuments under Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's review.

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The coastal town of Harpswell enacted a pesticide ban to save local lobsters. Photo credit: Flickr

You've probably heard of plastic bag ban bans, but now state lawmakers want to legislate pesticide bans.

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The November supermoon has gained attention around the world for its beauty, but is also bringing high water to flood-prone regions from South Florida to Maine.

Kevin Baird/Flickr

The moon, which follows an elliptical orbit, is at its closest approach to the Earth since 1948. The full moon, in alignment with the Earth and sun, combines with the unusually close distance to create a strong gravitational pull.

In South Florida, where king tides routinely flood low-lying areas, the National Weather Service issued a coastal flood advisory through 4 p.m. Wednesday. The highest tides are expected for Tuesday and Wednesday. Coconut Grove already had six inches of water in the street by Sunday night.

Further up the coast, Jacksonville Beach and Saint Augustine began to flood yesterday as well. Weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce warned that coastal areas in Georgia and South Carolina could be at risk.

Flooding in the Boston area is expected, where the highest tides will come on Tuesday around 11 a.m. Maine is on alert as well. Rain and easterly winds are forecast across the Northeast tomorrow, exacerbating the effects of the the moon and tides.

The sea level along coastal Massachusetts has risen four inches since 1950. Along South Florida, seas may rise 10 inches by 2030 from their 1992 levels. Flooding events in Miami Beach have jumped 400 percent in the past 10 years.

During October's king tides, Charleston, Savannah and Miami all experienced flooding. It has become routine for saltwater to invade homes and basements and parking garages in South Florida. Fish can be seen swimming in the streets during king tides. Roads get washed out.

During a campaign debate in October, Sen. Marco Rubio denied that climate change has anything to do with sea level rise or Florida's regular flooding events. Now re-elected for another six-year term, he has refused to meet with 15 Florida mayors who asked in January for a meeting to discuss the climate change risks they are facing.

Scientists expect the supermoon to make things even worse.

"That additional gravitational pull has caused our high tides to be a little bit higher than they would have been without that supermoon," said Dr. Tiffany Troxler, director of Florida International University's Sea Level Solutions Center, in an interview with CBS News.

Photographs of the supermoon have been posted since last night as skywatchers enjoy the show. The next time the moon gets this close will be in 2034.

The lobster industry in Maine is riding the crest of record prices and a record catch last year. This year, exports of the state's signature shellfish more than doubled last year's sales. But a new study from the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science found that baby lobsters won't survive in warmer waters.

Warming waters in the Gulf of Maine threaten American lobster fisheries.Dan Zukowski

Southern New England lobster fisheries have already collapsed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reports that over the past 10 years, the Gulf of Maine has warmed 99 percent faster than any other sea in the world. As a result, cod have virtually disappeared from the region. Lobster, like cod, are a cold water species.

A new study, published today in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, details the effect of warmer waters on the larval development of American lobsters. They found that when the water was 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than currently found in the Gulf of Maine, these baby lobsters "experienced significantly lower survival." Five degrees is how much the the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects the Gulf of Maine's temperature will warm by the end of the century.

Export markets for Maine lobster have grown dramatically.Credit: Portland Press-Herald

Maine's waters have long yielded large amounts of high-quality lobster. But as southern New England lobsters went into decline, the industry in northern New England flourished. The lobster population in the Gulf of Maine doubled in the past 20 years. In 2015, Maine lobstermen landed a record $495.4 million, or 121.1 million pounds.

Demand from China and other Asian markets is driving growing exports, which reached $103 million in the first half of 2016. From 2010 to 2015, shipments to China rose from just $100,000 to $20 million. But the waters that produce this bounty are at risk.

Dan Zukowski

The bounty that fed Native Americans for 11,000 years and early European colonizers derives from a unique geography. The Gulf of Maine is bounded on the southeast by Georges Bank and Browns Bank, creating an almost enclosed sea. From the northwest, it's fed by nutrient-rich cold waters of 25 river systems that drain 250 billion gallons of water per year into the gulf. At the head of the gulf, tides rise and fall 50 feet in the Bay of Fundy. Cod, herring, salmon and lobster thrive in this environment.

"Warm-water invaders are gaining a toehold, and those that already had one are taking over," reported the Portland Press-Herald in a special series published in 2015. In recent years, changes in the Gulf Stream have allowed more warm water to invade the Gulf of Maine. There has been a slow but steady progression north for the best lobster grounds. In the 1970s, it was in Casco Bay, outside Portland, but today it is some 80 miles north in Penobscot Bay.

Now, warm-water species are appearing off the shores of Maine. Squid, sea bass, green crabs and Asian shore crabs are among the invasive species. They've destroyed eelgrass and created ecological impacts that have yet to be determined. The University of Maine study showed that baby lobsters grow faster in warmer waters but don't survive as well. That could mean that Maine's lobsters will migrate north in search of colder Canadian waters.

"Ask any commercial fisherman here about climate change, and he'll tell you that it's wreaking havoc," the operations supervisor at the Portland Fish Exchange told me this summer. Now, researchers know why.

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