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A portion of roadway is flooded in Corpus Christi, Texas on Sept. 20, 2020 due to storm surge from Tropical Storm Beta in the Gulf of Mexico. Matt Pierce / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for tropical storms this year and has now moved on to the Greek alphabet during an extremely active hurricane season. Late Monday night, Tropical Storm Beta became the ninth named storm to make landfall. That's the first time so many named storms have made landfall since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was president, according to NBC News.

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A NOAA satellite image of the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 27, 2020 at 7:36 a.m. EST. NOAA

In the middle of the night, Hurricane Laura made landfall, hitting the Gulf Coast in Louisiana with record-setting 150 mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center, which warned of an "unsurvivable" storm surge.

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Fire and smoke at a plastics plant in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Aug. 19, 2020. The massive fire that broke out overnight is likely to burn for days, officials said. Xinhua / Dan Tian via Getty Images

A plastics plant near Dallas,Texas caught fire midnight Wednesday, sending a column of toxic smoke billowing over North Texas.

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The Florida National Guard collects specimens for coronavirus testing at a nursing home on May 1, 2020. Sgt. Michael Baltz / Florida National Guard

Florida has now confirmed more coronavirus cases than New York, the early epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, in another sign that the U.S. as a whole is struggling to control the deadly disease.

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A Coast Guard aircrew conducts an overflight of areas impacted by Hurricane Hanna near Aransas Pass, Texas on July 26, 2020. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Hurricane Hanna, the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, battered the Texas coast on Saturday and Sunday as the state continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

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A bat with white-nose syndrome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on March 12, 2012. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A deadly fungal disease responsible for the deaths of millions of bats across the U.S. has been confirmed in Texas for the first time.

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Activists in North Dakota confront pipeline construction activities. A Texas bill would impose steep penalties for such protests. Speak Freely / ACLU

By Eoin Higgins

A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.

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An extended version of the Fuxing bullet train at the China National Railway Test Center on Oct. 15, 2018 in Beijing, China. VCG / VCG via Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

Is it just us?

Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.

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Greenpeace

By Tim Donaghy

Time is running out for the oil and gas industry, and they know it. But delaying the transition to a clean energy economy even for a few more years means billions of dollars in profits for their investors. The 2018 elections show that even in their twilight years, oil cash can corrupt our democracy and block necessary progress on climate. The industry spent millions to kill off a Green New Deal-style initiative in Washington state and a Colorado initiative that would have increased the buffer between homes and schools and drilling areas.

When popular democracy threatened their profits, the oil industry opened up their checkbooks. And they'll run the same playbook on the fledgling Green New Deal too — unless we stop them.

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The W. A. Parish Power Plant, owned by NRG Energy, is one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Roy Luck / CC BY 2.0

Power plants across Texas are leaching toxins into groundwater, according to new research. A report released this week from the Environmental Integrity Project found that all of the state's 16 coal-fired power plants are leaching contaminants from coal ash into the ground, and almost none of the plants are properly lining their pits to prevent leakage.

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Wind farms dominate the landscape in West Texas. Robert Coy / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

During the 2016 campaign and in various postelection rallies, President Trump promised to save America's flagging coal industry and put the nation's coal miners "back to work." While Trump continues to labor under the delusion that easing emissions standards will somehow resuscitate the coal industry, his administration's own numbers tell a different story. In fact, more U.S. coal plants have been deactivated in the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency than were taken offline during President Obama's entire first term. Domestic coal use in 2018 was also the lowest it's been since Jimmy Carter was in office.

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Produced water from gas drilling in the Marcellus shale. Tara Lohan

By Tara Lohan

We're living beyond our means when it comes to groundwater. That's probably not news to everyone, but new research suggests that, deep underground in a number of key aquifers in some parts of the U.S., we may have much less water than previously thought.

"We found that the average depth of water resources across the country was about half of what people had previously estimated," said Jennifer McIntosh, a distinguished scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona.

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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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