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3 Reasons to Be Hopeful About Our P​lanet in 2018

By Elizabeth Sturcken

Feeling down about our planet in 2018? Don't!

There are many reasons to be hopeful around environmental action in the new year—and if the following developments don't make you feel better, I've prescribed some action steps at the end that are guaranteed to set you on a healthier, happier path.

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Health
Rob Hainer / IStock

In Alabama, a Cleanup Unearths Toxins—and Scandal

By Matt Smith

Lot by lot, backhoes and dump trucks are scraping and hauling away yards on the north side of Birmingham to remove soil laced with heavy metals and other industrial wastes—the legacy of this city's years as a steelmaking power.

Federal prosecutors say that effort also uncovered something else: a scheme to save polluters millions by putting the neighborhood's representative in Montgomery on their payroll.

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Health

EPA Rule Change Would Expose Teenagers to Highly Toxic Chemicals

By Farron Cousins

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking aim at two rules designed to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals by workers under the age of 18. The agency has filed notices with the federal register of its intent to either tweak or outright eliminate these protections for underage workers.

The first rule the agency is looking to change is one the Obama administration adopted in 2015 which prohibited farmworkers under the age of 18 from handling and dispersing certain pesticides deemed too toxic for public sale.

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Energy

FERC Rejection of Coal and Nuclear Bailout Is Big Win for Renewable Energy

By Alex Formuzis

Federal regulators' rejection Monday of the White House's scheme to prop up the coal and nuclear power industries is a big win for electricity customers and renewable energy, said Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied a petition by Energy Sec. Rick Perry to require the use of electricity from coal and nuclear plants, even when cheaper sources are available—a move analysts said would drive up Americans' utility bills by billions of dollars a year.

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Climate

A smoggy view from the George Washington Bridge in 1973. Chester Higgins / US National Archives

EPA Under Siege: The New Assault on the U.S. Environmental Protection System

By Bob Sussman

The system took shape in the 1960s and 70s as the public and politicians sounded the alarm about the environmental legacy of decades of uncontrolled industrialization. Faced with the threat of unsafe and polluted air, contaminated rivers and streams, hazardous chemicals in homes and products and toxic waste sites, Congress enacted an ambitious set of laws calling for far-reaching protections of public health and the environment. Support for these laws came from across the political spectrum and from presidents as diverse as Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

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Food
Sean Locke / Stocksy

4 Tips for Stocking a Kid-Friendly, Nontoxic Kitchen

By Molly M. Ginty

You shun Styrofoam tableware, buy organic oranges and even get your kids to eat leafy greens. But are you doing all you can to protect your children from toxic chemicals that may lurk inside their favorite foods?

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Health
Salting streets in Milwaukee. Michael Pereckas / CC BY-SA

Can Road Salt and Other Pollutants Disrupt Our Circadian Rhythms?

By Jennifer Marie Hurley

Every winter, local governments across the U.S. apply millions of tons of road salt to keep streets navigable during snow and ice storms. Runoff from melting snow carries road salt into streams and lakes, and causes many bodies of water to have extraordinarily high salinity.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, my colleague Rick Relyea and his lab are working to quantify how increases in salinity affect ecosystems. Not surprisingly, they have found that high salinity has negative impacts on many species. They have also discovered that some species have the ability to cope with these increases in salinity.

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Climate

Beijing Meets Air Quality Improvement Goals With Crackdown on Polluters

Beijing successfully lowered air pollution levels following a crackdown on polluters last year, bringing China's capital in line with air quality targets, according to Chinese officials.

The announcement Wednesday by the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau followed a 2013 plan that ordered the city to reduce the yearly average concentration of particulate matter to less than 60 micrograms. According to the bureau, the capital succeeded by reducing PM2.5 concentrations to 58 micrograms per cubic meter—a reduction of 35.6 percent from 2012.

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Trump Watch
White House. Matthias Harbers / Flickr

17 Ways the Trump Administration Assaulted the Environment Over the Holidays

By John R. Platt

While visions of sugarplums danced in some of our heads, the Trump administration had a different vision—of a country unbound by rules that protect people, places, wildlife and the climate. Over the past two weeks, the administration has proposed or finalized changes to how the government and the industries it regulates respond to climate change, migratory birds, clean energy, pesticides and toxic chemicals. Here's a timeline:

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