Environment

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

Dan Perkins flickr.com/photos/31110281@N08 / Creative Commons

Everyone is talking about native shrubs these days as we try to wean ourselves away from invasives, such as burning bush and Japanese barberry, which have been used for years as landscape plants. But it’s not enough to simply plant a native and hope for the best. 

Deepwater Wind is still on schedule to complete the first construction phase of the Block Island Wind Farm, despite issues related to equipment reliability and worker safety. Contractors have about one more month of construction to go, according to Grover Fugate, the executive director of the Coastal Resources Management Council.

Fugate said Deepwater Wind has gotten its contractors to implement safety recommendations and replace inadequate equipment for choppy ocean conditions.

A New York Supreme Court judge has overturned New York City's ban on plastic foam containers.


The Adirondack Council has released its annual report assessing actions by governmental leaders and agencies toward the Adirondack Park. 

cogdogblog / Creative Commons

In an ambitious goal, the EPA said it would like to reduce the amount of food tossed into trash bins 50 percent by 2030. It's looking like one big byproduct of that goal will be a growing market for methane in Connecticut. 

Parker Knight / Creative Commons

The Green Revolution of the mid-twentieth century revolutionized the way the world fed itself.  It introduced new fertilizers, pesticides, and hybrid seeds. At the same time, it also placed an enormous burden on the world’s environmental and ecological systems.

jojomelons flickr.com/photos/jojomelons/4911395182 / Creative Commons

Americans could be throwing away a lot more trash than government officials estimate according to a new study out of Yale University. 

The software that allegedly causes Volkswagen cars to cheat official emissions tests exists in only one type of diesel engine, according to the carmaker — and it has sold 11 million of them around the world. The company says it's setting aside 6.5 billion euros (around $7.25 billion) to fix the cars.

Providing an update to a scandal that began Friday, when the EPA said it found wide variations in emissions from VW cars that use a "defeat device" to fool emissions tests, the German company said that it's "working at full speed" to investigate the problematic software.

The Providence City Council approved a new zoning ordinance limiting student housing in the city. The council voted 11-3 to approve the ordinance.

Proponents say the ordinance will help alleviate the disruptive college partying, residents say is encroaching into quiet neighborhoods. They say landlords are buying up single family homes, and filling them with college kids.

Two electric utilities, Eversource Energy and National Grid, have teamed up with a pipeline developer, Spectra, to propose an upgrade to a natural gas pipeline that passes through Eastern Massachusetts. But before that project can proceed, Eversource needed a question answered from regulators: legally, can an electric utility buy space on a natural gas pipeline?

Some say the Tiny House movement dates back to 1854 when Henry David Thoreau first described the economy and aesthetics of small home living in "Walden".  But the movement didn't gather much steam until 1998 with the publication of Sarah Susanka's "The Not So Big House" - and itty bitty houses began to literally dot the landscape.  So when we heard about a tiny house in Hampton, NH - that was on wheels, that looked like a steamer trunk, that was made of recycled movie sets - we sent Sean Hurley to find out more. 

Goody Clancy

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is making efforts to figure out how to develop land in certain parts of the state to encourage more use of public transportation.

redlegsfan21 / Wikimedia Commons

State environmental officials said emergency response workers are supervising a clean-up of jet fuel spilled at Bradley International Airport.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said Thursday a section of an affected pipeline is about a half-mile long, extending from a bulk storage fuel terminal to a loading rack in the airport.

Curtis Swartzentruber flickr.com/photos/skills0/7248620938 / Creative Commons

Fall is an excellent time for soil building and one of the ways I keep my soil healthy is by growing cover crops.

At least eight people were reported killed following a powerful earthquake off Chile's coast Wednesday night. The 8.3-magnitude quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific, from California and Hawaii to New Zealand.

Chile's government ordered a million people to evacuate their homes on the coast, fearing a repeat of a 2010 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 500 people. But fears of a devastating tsunami in Chile eased Thursday morning, and the alert was rescinded.

When hurricanes or other large storms roll in, we often focus on the human toll-- buildings destroyed, properties damaged.

But those same storms can also wreak havoc on ecosystems and the plants that are their foundation. And if a native system is wiped out, will it bounce back? One conservation group is trying to create a repository of native New England seeds, which can be used for just that purpose.

Green Mountain Power officials say its now official: Rutland is the solar generation capital of New England.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today announced funding awards for rental housing development across the state and highlighted a pilot program to open new preschool classrooms.  He did both during a visit to Holyoke. 

Baker announced funding to build or preserve almost 1,500 apartments at 23 projects in 15 communities across the state. He made the announcement at one of the sites chosen—Lyman Terrace, a 76-year-old, 167-unit public housing complex in downtown Holyoke, where tenants fought a plan a few years ago to demolish their homes.

Meagan Racey / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A partnership to protect Connecticut's only native rabbit appears to be working, which means the New England cottontail will not need protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

Developers of a proposed seven-turbine wind development in Swanton held an open house last week to allow the public to ask questions and get answers from experts.

At the meeting, a number of people raised concerns about potential impacts to water quality, and they have one high-profile supporter.

“Interesting.” That’s how Gov. Charlie Baker described a proposal to make train travel in and out of Boston easier, by building a tunnel between the city’s North and South stations.

However, the governor is taking a cautious approach, noting that the plan — championed by former Govs. William Weld and Michael Dukakis at a private meeting Wednesday — could cost taxpayers a lot of money.

NOAA

Deep underwater, about 150 miles off the coast of New England, lie majestic mountains and rock formations deeper than Arizona's Grand Canyon. The area is home to lots of marine life, and now, there's a new effort afoot to preserve that space. 

Nearly three years after Superstorm Sandy, some Rhode Island residents are still dealing with the aftermath. And it’s not just damage to buildings and property. These Rhode Islanders are struggling with mental illness related to stress. 

TANAKA Juuyoh flickr.com/photos/tanaka_juuyoh/6443984075 / Creative Commons

Audio Pending...

Some annual flowers just knock your socks off with their beauty. I remember a few years ago wandering through a greenhouse at White Flower Farm and being bowled over by their display of tuberous begonias. The flowers were perfect in a rainbow of colors with single and double flower shapes and some were even fragrant.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission flickr.com/photos/nrcgov/6517600977/ / Creative Commons

Federal regulators are halting a five-year study of the risk of cancer in communities around six U.S. nuclear plants and a nuclear fuel site, including two Connecticut nuclear plants.

Scientists have discovered the fossilized remains of an unusual human-like creature that lived long ago. Exactly how long ago is still a mystery — and that's not the only mystery surrounding this newfound species.

The bones have a strange mix of primitive and modern features, and were found in an even stranger place — an almost inaccessible chamber deep inside a South African cave called Rising Star.

The campaign to force America's farmers to change the way they handle their animals celebrated a victory this week.

McDonald's USA announced that in the near future, it will no longer buy eggs from chickens that live in cages.

Those cages are still the industry standard, and 90 percent of America's eggs come from chickens that live in them.

Carl Safina

What, exactly, do animals think and feel? That's the question at the heart of a new book by Carl Safina, an ecologist who traveled to Kenya, the Pacific Northwest, and Yellowstone to research his latest work, Beyond Words.

Adam Frenier / NEPR

Decades after General Electric stopped improperly disposing industrial chemicals into the Housatonic in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the 150-mile river remains contaminated, and the EPA continues to ban fishing. But one part of the river is getting a makeover.

Work is underway to remove the White Rock Dam on the Pawcatuck River, along the Rhode Island/Connecticut border.The dam was built in 1940.

The White Rock Dam is located seven miles from the mouth of the Pawcatuck River, near Westerly and Stonington, Ct. Dams have restricted its flow since before the American Revolutionary War. The current dam stands six feet tall and more than 100 feet long. 

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