Environment

WNPR's Environmental Reporting Initiative is made possible by United Technologies Corporation.

Across Connecticut, abandoned sites are being built back up. It’s complicated and expensive work, but in recent years, the state has put millions of dollars towards breathing new life into the long-forgotten spaces of the industrial era.

LOLren / Creative Commons

White House officials hosted 13 of the largest companies from across the American economy on Monday to discuss ways business can help reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent over the next ten years. 

The state of Vermont and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission don't always see eye to eye. The state and the feds disagreed over the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant when the Vernon reactor was operating. And now that the plant is shut down, the state has challenged the federal agency over emergency planning and decommissioning.

Connecticut Wildlife Plan Available for Public Comment

Jul 27, 2015
Shane Kemp / Creative Commons

Connecticut's 2015 draft Wildlife Action Plan, which outlines future wildlife conservation efforts in the state, is available for public review.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will accept comment on the document through August 21.

The Fish Creek Fire in Interior Alaska isn't much to look at. It's about 7,500 acres in size, sitting about an hour south of Fairbanks near the twisty Tanana River. The main fire front — the made-for-TV part, with torching trees and pulses of orange heat — flamed out more than a week ago, leaving behind a quiet charred landscape.

More than 1 million people die in traffic deaths around the world each year — that's drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians combined.

It's a problem in the United States: There are 11.4 deaths a year per 100,000 population. It's a problem in low-income countries like Zambia, where the comparable figure is 23.8 deaths. And it's a huge problem in the middle-income world. The Dominican Republic records 41.7 deaths per 100,000, and was ranked in 2013 as the most dangerous country in the world for drivers.

Deepwater Wind started to put steel in the water this week for the Block Island Wind Farm. Island residents have mixed feelings about the construction.  

Susan Torrey lives on Block Island all year. She and her husband have been waiting to see visible signs of what is expected to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

Michael Pennay / Creative Commons

Researchers at UMass-Amherst are working to develop a device to help protect bats from wind turbine blades that could kill them.

As part of the state budget, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the creation of a rural policy commission in Massachusetts. It continues a longstanding effort to express small town needs in the Boston-centric commonwealth.

peasap / Creative Commons

Wildlife explorers are expected at the UConn Storrs campus this weekend for a 24-hour "BioBlitz."

Bill Coppersmith, a fisherman in Maine, might want to buy a lottery ticket. He's gotten pretty lucky lately. This week he caught a rare orange lobster while fishing with his sternman Brian Skillings, writes the Portland Press Herald.

The paper talked to Robert Bayer, executive director of The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine, who said that the actual odds of catching an orange lobster would just be a guess. But "it's one in several million, there's no doubt about that," he said.

State and federal officials are turning to researchers at the University of Rhode Island to help them understand what happened at Salty Brine State Beach over the weekend when a mini explosion knocked a woman into a jetty, leaving her with two broken ribs. A team of scientists will convene at the beach at low tide later today to collect samples in their search for answers.

Tony Austin / Creative Commons

We must really love tomatoes. Even with farmer's markets, CSAs, and farm stands loaded with fresh, locally-grown tomato fruits this time of year, we still insist on growing our own. This is even more impressive considering all the problems tomatoes can have.

slack12 / Creative Commons

Water-quality data about beaches on Long Island Sound has been publicly available for a while, but understanding it can be tricky. Now, a new online tool could help make that process easier.

Lightning strikes have killed at least 20 people in the U.S. so far this year, according to the National Weather Service. That's higher than the average for recent years, the service says.

Most people who are injured or killed by lightning, it turns out, are not struck directly — instead, the bolt lands nearby.

That's what happened to Steve Marshburn in 1969. He was working inside a bank and says lightning somehow made its way through an ungrounded speaker at the drive-through window to the stool where he was sitting.

For the past quarter-century, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been gathering data from more than 400 scientists around the world on climate trends.

The report on 2014 from these international researchers? On average, it was the hottest year ever — in the ocean, as well as on land.

Martin LaBar / Creative Commons

There’s nothing like the beautiful blue-flowered hydrangea. Although once thought of as an old fashioned flower, hydrangeas are popular again.

NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

On Tuesday night, astronomers got an encouraging signal from New Horizons -- after 21 hours of radio silence, the NASA probe reported it had safely made its way past Pluto. Now, scientists in Connecticut say the real work begins. 

Brian Garrett / Creative Commons

In 1972, there were only seven active osprey nests in Connecticut. The birds were listed as endangered or threatened in many states -- due to the widespread use of the toxin DDT, which was banned that same year.

Wayback Burgers

Gillian Maffeo said it all started as an April Fool's Day joke. Wayback Burgers, a resturant chain headquartered in Cheshire with locations across the state and country, started advertising a new type of milkshake: one infused with protein, from bugs. 

Alice Henneman / Creative Commons

I’m an Italian-American from Waterbury, so I’d like to think I know a little about basil. 

Pauline Zaldonis

A number of mobile food stores will be making their way around the state this summer. The idea is to bring fresh and affordable produce to communities without a nearby supermarket. 

Sergey Yeliseev / Creative Commons

In a press release from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection late last month, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station announced that there was gypsy moth -- Lymantria dispar -- activity across the state, coupled with some pockets of tree defoliation. However, the increased moth activity does not necessarily indicate that long term issues are ahead, according to the CAES.

Go New Haven Go / Facebook

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and city transportation officials have announced the next phase of GoNewHavenGo, an initiative to encourage Elm City residents to use alternative forms of transportation. 

David Goehring / Flickr Creative Commons

With the latter half of the 20th century came the rise of a new land conservation movement. Private, non-profit land trusts became increasingly popular among those interested in preserving land across the United States. 

Rhode Island researchers have received $500,000 in federal grant money to investigate a fungus that’s killing native bats. The mysterious illness has attacked bats across North America.

Over the last decade, biologists believe an illness known as white-nose syndrome has killed some six-million bats in North America. The fungus appears on the bat’s muzzle. It targets hibernating bats, causing serious infections on their wings, and bodies.

Oksana Perkins/iStock / Thinkstock

Longer tractor trailers could soon be coming to highways in Connecticut. The bill, which has passed out of the U.S. House, would allow truckers to use double-trailers that are each 33 feet long. Right now, the feds cap these twin-trailers at 28 feet a piece. 

Metropolitan Transit Authority

Mechanical problems have left a Connecticut span of a 111-year-old bridge stuck in the open position, delaying Metro-North trains to and from New York City.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Before Superstorm Sandy made landfall in 2012, several Connecticut towns received mandatory evacuation orders. But many chose to ignore them and ride out the storm. Now researchers at Yale University are trying to find out why. 

A small company in California is hoping to make a big splash by providing detailed flood maps to homeowners and insurance companies. And to do that, the company is using one of the fastest supercomputers in the world.

The company is called Katrisk, based in Berkeley, Calif. Hydrologist and computer modeler Dag Lohmann is one of the company's founders. He says the flood maps the Federal Emergency Management Agency already produces will tell you how prone a particular area is to flooding.

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