Environment

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

Harriet Jones / WNPR

These days of falling oil prices may be causing alternative fuel suppliers a few sleepless nights. But one tiny company in Eastern Connecticut is forging ahead with plans to break into the fuel pellet market with a surprising new ingredient. 

Keeping up with road repair — and finding funds to pay for it — is a struggle for many states, particularly in places where winter weather takes a toll on highways and streets. Wisconsin’s transportation department faces a deficit and is looking for ways to raise $750 million over the next two years.

There are 4,800 dams in New Hampshire but only two where a full time dam operator is required to live on site.  There's Moore Dam in Littleton and Murphy Dam in Pittsburg.  NHPR's Sean Hurley recently visited with Murphy Dam Operator Alan Williams to learn more about life on a dam. 

Near sunrise, nearly every morning, coffee in hand, Alan Williams leaves the dam house and walks up the dam road and heads out across the half mile bunker of piled earth that is the Murphy Dam.  

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant entered its final shutdown Monday at 1:03 p.m. The 620-megawatt reactor has been generating electricity for more than 42 years.

preserve1000acres.com

A fundraising effort to buy 1,000 acres of shoreline land is nearly complete.  The land is called The Preserve, and it spreads across Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook.  

Dave Ginsberg / Creative Commons

A national transportation research group says Connecticut’s deteriorating roads are costing state drivers more than $4 billion a year. 

NASA is building a new space telescope with astounding capabilities. The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018, will replace the aging Hubble Space Telescope and will provide unprecedented views of the first galaxies to form in the early universe. It might even offer the first clear glimpse of an Earth-like planet orbiting a distant star.

NASA's Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen

We know that technology and price can drive electricity demand, but what about culture?

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and a host of federal, state and local officials took an inaugural train ride Monday on newly rebuilt tracks in western Massachusetts.

The trip from Springfield to Greenfield highlighted the dawn of high speed passenger rail service along what is known as the Knowledge Corridor.  For the first time in decades passenger trains will stop in Northampton and Holyoke.  Kathleen Anderson, president of the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, said it opens a lot of possibilities including more tourism.

Creative Commons / angeloangelo

Legislators and lobbyists are calling for the state's largest electric utility to lower its fixed residential charge with a new proposal that would set Connecticut Light and Power's fixed rate at $10.00 a month.

Many beer aficionados are familiar with the rare breweries run by Trappist monks. The beer is highly sought after, but it's not the only food or drink made by a religious order. Many abbeys and convents have deep roots in agriculture, combining farm work with prayer.

Falling oil prices are perhaps nowhere more welcome than in northern New England, where most homes burn heating oil in their furnaces. But cheaper heating oil is refilling consumers' pockets just as high electric prices are emptying them out.

For example, a heating oil truck delivers 600 gallons of heating oil every two weeks to an old, four-story brick building in Concord, N.H. At last year's oil prices, each refill would have cost around $2,200. Right now, it's more than $300 cheaper.

A. Marinkovic / Creative Commons

A Wesleyan astronomer has just returned from a conference in Tokyo, Japan, where she discussed research from the ALMA space telescope -- a radio observatory partly funded by the National Science Foundation -- which is just finishing construction.

A ship full of marine scientists is floating over the deepest part of the world: the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. They're sending down probes to study life in one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

This week the researchers are targeting the two deepest spots in the trench — the Sirena Deep and the Challenger Deep — which each extend down about 7 miles beneath the ocean's surface.

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Victor Solanoy / Creative Commons

Around 100 people attended a meeting in Waterford on Monday night to discuss ideas for a proposed new state park. 

John Phelan / Creative Commons

Should state regulators be more aggressive in punishing first time violators of environmental law? That's a question the Council on Environmental Quality hopes lawmakers wrestle with in the upcoming legislative session. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

When it comes to space, there’s a lot to be excited about. Telescopes are scanning the farthest reaches of our galaxy and we’re learning more than ever before about the origins of planets.

Artondra Hall / Creative Commons

The team that will work to develop a new state park at the former Seaside Regional Center in Waterford will be introduced on Monday evening.

Denmark, together with Greenland, today will claim around 350,000 square miles of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, in an area around the North Pole that is slightly larger than the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined.

On the roof of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif., in a large plastic tank, a sea otter mother named Abby floats with her adopted pup, known as 671.

For up to nine months, Abby will raise her little adoptee, and when 671 is ready, she will be released into a protected inland salt marsh called Elkhorn Slough, just off Monterey Bay.

That's where 671 will set to work to preserve the estuary, says Tim Tinker, who tracks otters for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Geminid Meteor Showers Light Up Both Hemispheres

Dec 14, 2014

The annual Geminid meteor shower dazzled Earthlings around the world late Saturday and early Sunday.

Pieces of gravel and dust from a "rock comet" called 3200 Phaethon shot across the sky and lit up discussion boards from NASA.gov to Twitter — for those who could tear their eyes away long enough to type.

A new financing plan was announced today to accelerate the redevelopment of Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts

       City officials said a proposed addition of $3.2 million in local funds along with a previously announced $4.2 million grant from the state will allow the transit-focused elements of the project to be completed simultaneously with tenant-ready commercial space and additional parking.

     "It is a big achievement having all the money that is now needed to get this project done," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Robert Linsdell / Creative Commons

The replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America has set sail from Plymouth, Massachusetts, to another historic port in Connecticut where it will undergo a restoration. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it has found the remains of a 19th century passenger steamer that sank near the present-day Golden Gate Bridge at the entrance to San Francisco Bay, killing 128 people, mostly immigrants from China and Japan.

Inbound from Hong Kong, the City of Rio de Janeiro, which came to be known as the "Titanic of the Golden Gate," went down in dense fog after hitting submerged rocks early on the morning of Feb. 22, 1901.

U.N. talks on global warming are wrapping up in Peru, but a divide between rich and poor countries and how to divvy up targets to reduce greenhouse gases is a key sticking point that has remained unresolved.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has acknowledged that the issue is "hard fought and ... complex," but he says it is crucial that the targets be agreed on before next year's summit in Paris. The talks in Peru end today.

City of New Haven

Transportation officials and representatives from New Haven city government will sit down this week to discuss long-range plans for Union Station. 

U.S. Navy

As the United Nations climate change talks in Lima enter into their second week, one measurement that's coming up a lot is 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Following up on a controversial campaign promise, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's bill to ban horse-drawn carriages reached the City Council on Monday, in a move to phase out the carriages that often give tours around Central Park.

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